New Governors' Agendas 2011: Brian Sandoval, Nevada
In January, new governors were inaugurated in 26 states. As the nation continues to deal with a slowly improving economy, these governors have their work cut out for them. Area Development's editor recently asked the new governors what businesses in their states could expect regarding resources, regulatory changes, and tax and financial incentives.
What resources will your administration leverage in order to attract businesses to your state?
Sandoval: We are re-designing our economic development strategy to improve upon our current business-friendly incentive structure, and add components, as follows:
• A Nevada Business Catalyst Fund will provide seed funding to strategically attractive businesses that expand operations in Nevada, and to invest in technology commercialization initiatives in Nevada.
• We will form a public-private partnership organization that will oversee the Business Catalyst Fund, and also provide guidance for business development in sectors not currently in Nevada; those that are here would benefit from focused private-sector strategic support.
• We are also leveraging our substantial infrastructure in hospitality services to expand international business development and become a regional services hub in banking, consulting, and other business sectors.
Which particular industry sectors would be well served by your state's resources?
Sandoval: The natural one is renewable energy development, since we are considered the "Saudi Arabia" of renewable energy resources. We will further develop solar in southern Nevada, geothermal in northern Nevada, and wind resources in various portions of the state. Ultimately, we will have excess power resources available for export to surrounding regions. The natural resources used in battery production, such as lithium, will be targets for mining and development, further leveraging the industry assets of that sector.
We also will have tremendous opportunities in defense industry expansion, based on our presence with the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site); and the possible utilization of the Yucca Mountain storage site as a secure information or laboratory site with national significance.
Other sectors include medical industry expansion with fine institutions already in Nevada, including the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, The Nevada Cancer Institute, and the Nevada Neuroscience Institute; film and digital media production; and bioscience technology.
How will the state continue to serve its existing industry?
Sandoval: Our two pillars of the economy - hospitality/gaming and mining - will be well served by our efforts to expand in those industries, and leverage the tremendous assets we currently have. The mining of lithium and our intent to have the processing in this state will enhance the value of the industry beyond our current gold and silver mining. And our work toward international business expansion, as well as expanding into the business services sector, will leverage the assets of the existing hospitality industry.
In today's economic environment, what is your administration's policy on financial incentives to business?
Sandoval: First of all, our tax structure.no corporate income tax, personal income tax, inventory tax, unitary tax, franchise tax, or other intangible tax.makes us one of the most business-friendly states in the nation. We are ranked third by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council as being most friendly to entrepreneurs, and we currently have a package of incentives for new and expanding businesses that includes sales and use tax abatements, sales tax deferral, modified business tax abatement, and personal property tax abatement. We also have several programs that will provide financial support for training employees. Our economic development agency staff and the legislature are continually evaluating the incentive programs to see that we remain competitive in all aspects of business recruitment and expansion.
Do you plan to undertake any specific educational initiatives to encourage businesses to locate and remain in your state?
Sandoval: We currently have some great institutions of primary, secondary, and higher education, and we encourage academic excellence through our Millennium Scholarship Program that awards students scholarships toward the cost of education at any Nevada public college or university, as well as certain Nevada not-for-profit universities. We also have institutions such as the Davidson Academy of Nevada, which is a free public school for profoundly gifted middle and high school students; career and technical academies in our local school districts that offer a variety of studies leading to higher education or careers in areas such as aerospace and aviation, biomedical and environmental sciences, information technologies, performing and fine arts, communications, law preparatory, health services, police and fire public services, travel and tourism, veterinary and medical sciences, computer animation, and engineering. Also, we are enhancing our programs with incentives for the best performing teachers and administrators.
Are there any changes to your state's tax and/or regulatory code that you are proposing in order to encourage business development?
Sandoval: One of my first acts as Governor was to sign an executive order freezing most proposed administrative regulations until January 2012, giving us the opportunity to review regulations that inhibit the growth and well-being of business in our state. The legislature is in session from February 7, 2011 through May. We are focused on business growth and job development as our top priority.