Sandoval says economic development a ‘contact sport’ he’s ready to play
18 April 2012
VEGAS INC coverage
Gov. Brian Sandoval called the governors of Texas, Indiana and New Jersey his friends but said he’s ready to go head to head with them to try to lure companies to Nevada.
Economic development is “a contact sport,” Sandoval said Wednesday during a speech at the Silverton for members of the Keystone Corporation, a conservative anti-tax business group. “If we want to be in the game, we have to have a cutting-edge approach.”
Earlier this year, Sandoval unveiled a new state economic development plan that relies on regional development authorities and “industry specialists” who will work with specific business sectors to increase exports, research and development.
Sandoval also empowered Steve Hill, the state’s economic development director, to authorize grants and challenged local businesses to create 50,000 new jobs by the end of 2014.
Sandoval modeled much of his plan on the best practices adopted by other governors. He praised Texas Gov. Rick Perry, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels for their efforts. But he also pointed out that Nevada is in direct competition with those states.
Companies looking to relocate try to negotiate the best deals possible, and states go to extreme measures to win them over. Governments spend millions of dollars on incentives and seed money, and some have even given away free land to lure businesses to town, Sandoval said.
Sandoval recalled a telephone conversation he had with Perry on Tuesday. “If Nevada does nothing (to improve economic development), Texas is going to kick your butt,” Perry told Sandoval.
In Carson City, things are looking up as state revenues exceed projections, Sandoval said. Gaming earnings are up, as are collections of sales and use taxes. State finances haven’t been this solid since 2007, Sandoval said with a smile.
As a result, the governor vowed to hold the line on taxes, a promise that brought Keystone members to their feet.
“No one will pay more in taxes than the day I took office,” Sandoval said as the crowd cheered.
But the good news doesn’t mean Nevada is out of the woods. Federal mandates continue to burden the state’s finances and if approved, health care reform could cripple the state budget, Sandoval said.
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