The state has a comprehensive study by the Brookings Institute to guide the preparation of an economic development plan, a full-time executive director and an Economic Development Board that officially has met a half-dozen times.
Now, it’s time to write the plan and put it in motion.
That was the message from the board today as it reviewed the Brookings final report and approved Executive Director Steve Hill’s calendar to write the plan and its rules and regulations for implementation by the end of June.
Along the way, the board is expected to weigh in on some of the critical details of the plan and solicit feedback from some of the key players of companies with which the state will attempt to develop clusters of industries that would diversify the Nevada’s economy.
Among the key questions that will be answered when drafting the plan will be the role existing regional development authorities would play in the process of recruiting new business and industry to the state and how the state would use a $10 million “Catalyst Fund” to close deals in the recruitment and expansion of companies.
Hill also said the process would include meeting with leaders of companies already engaged in the seven major industries identified as key to diversifying the economy. The idea is to capitalize on industry strengths to build networks of supporting companies that will reduce the state’s dependence on the gaming industry.
The seven industries include the further diversification of tourism, gaming and entertainment to include niche markets, film and media and online gaming applications; health and medical services; business information technology systems; alternative clean energy production; mining, materials and manufacturing; logistics and operations; and aerospace and defense.
Hill said he has begun meeting with regional development authorities to get ideas from those leaders and he’ll also evaluate the effectiveness of the state’s existing incentives and tax abatement programs to determine how to continue and expand them.
Hill says he hopes to have the plan drafted by early February and begin its implementation by May so that all rules and procedures are in place when the current Economic Development Commission is sunsetted at the end of June. Currently, both the commission and the new board — formed by legislation signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval at the end of the 2011 legislative session — operate simultaneously during the transition.
Sandoval chairs the new Economic Development Board.
Board members suggested that Hill incorporate rules and regulations that address sustaining jobs after incentives have been issued and working with education leaders to stay current on technological advances to be prepared for changes within an industry. At today’s meeting, for example, board members said that within a decade Blu-Ray technology would be obsolete and tech industries need to be prepared for advances to meet employee and training needs within the industry.
Hill also will be challenged when writing the state plan on how much depth he would need to include on infrastructure needs to support the various industry clusters that are being invited to the state.
Although statutes require the board to meet quarterly, Hill says he expects board meetings to occur monthly during the drafting and implementation of the plan. Tentatively, meetings will occur the third Thursday of each month at 10 a.m., with the time changing to 1 p.m. in April.
The board also agreed to begin meeting at the facilities of board members so that members and the public would have the opportunity to see some of the industry cluster companies around which the diversification is being built. Those so-called “sector convenings” were recommended in the Brookings report so that local leaders could better understand the end goal.