South scores win in Nevada economic development effort

The Governor's Office of Economic Development has designated 10 organizations from across the state, including a Southern Nevada group, as regional development authorities under Gov. Brian Sandoval's economic development plan.

As expected, the organization calling itself the Las Vegas Regional Economic Development Council — a collaboration between the Nevada Development Authority, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and several municipalities — was among the selections.

Officials have said the Southern Nevada group would get the bulk of the state's economic development funding because it generates 70 percent of the state's economy and is home to 70 percent of the state's residents.

The LVREDC is chaired by Las Vegas City Manager Betsy Fretwell. Other members include Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kristin McMillan; Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Chairman Kevin Orrock; Glenn Christenson, chairman of the Nevada Development Authority's board of directors; Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager; Clark County Manager Don Burnette; Henderson Councilwoman Debra March; North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck; North Las Vegas City Manager Tim Hacker; UNLV President Neal Smatresk; and College of Southern Nevada President Mike Richards.

The organization was one of 11 to submit proposals to the state office at the end of April. The governor's office evaluated the submissions, which came from 15 of the state's 17 counties and Carson City. Several rural counties joined forces to form one submission, such as the Northern Nevada Development Authority, which represents the interests of Carson City, Churchill, Douglas and Lyon counties.

Another big player in the process is the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, which represents interests in Washoe and Storey counties. Lander and Elko counties are considering a collaborative effort, a strategy that has been endorsed by Sandoval's office.

Steve Hill, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, complimented the Las Vegas group's effort to "to craft an effective regional organization."

Past economic development efforts in Southern Nevada occasionally have been hurt by rifts between rival cities.

In the past, the Nevada Development Authority focused on guiding executives of prospective new companies to the state through the Nevada Commission on Economic Development's tax abatement and deferral incentives; connecting companies with local real estate professionals and government officials; and marketing and advertising the state, particularly in California, on its lower tax rates and utility costs.

The new organization plans to have committees devoted to marketing, branding and recruitment; business retention and expansion; higher education and workforce development; international business; redevelopment; and government affairs.

At the end of June, the Nevada Commission on Economic Development will turn its responsibilities of evaluating companies‚ tax deferral and abatement requests to the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

This month, the state will work on the transition and to complete contracting with the new regional development authorities.



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