Q. What is Nevada's recent economic outlook?
A. Nevada continues to be an economic marvel in a challenging country. We continue to grow jobs - we have a 2 percent job growth, most of which is within existing companies. In fiscal 2007, new job growth with expanding companies grew to 1,744 new jobs. Primary examples of large expansions were Microsoft Licensing in Reno with 300 added jobs; Zappos.com, online shoe seller in Las Vegas, which added 280 new jobs; and PetSmart's warehouse and distribution center in Fernley, with 200 jobs created. I was formerly the state treasurer for two terms and I know that this state had a AA+ rating. We led the nation in job growth for a good part of the last decade with 6 percent.
Q. Any new legislation that will affect business?
A. Our biennial legislature met for 120 days earlier this year, and will not meet again until early 2009. They have left Nevada's business climate alone, with no new income or corporate taxes. The legislature realizes that we are already a good place to do business.
Q. What industrial sectors show promise?
A. Traditional warehousing and manufacturing continues to set a good pace. We would like to evolve into more advanced manufacturing and electronics. In renewable energy, Nevada is very well positioned to expand this sector because of what Mother Nature provides - more sunshine than any other state in the country. We have two of the largest construction projects for solar energy, Solar One, out of Boulder City, and another at Nellis Air Force Base, called Solar Star. This project, North America's largest solar photovoltaic power system, broke ground in April 2007 and is scheduled for completion in early 2008. An investment of over $100 million, the project will support the more than 12,000 military and civilians at Nellis.
We have competitive prices for geothermal resources, natural gas and coal. TG Power, LLC is currently developing a geothermal power project in Elko County. With an investment of $6 million in the project to date, investment of over $100 million is anticipated to complete the project by early 2009, and the project will create 15 new full-time positions. As for wind power, we have 300 named mountain ranges, giving us a great wind-harvesting capacity. Our challenge is learning how to transmit all of these resources. We have the profound opportunity to become a generator for the West Coast.
We continue to anchor life sciences projects using our research facilities and incubating small businesses. The Nevada Cancer Institute in Las Vegas has lured some of the finest research scientists in the world. In March 2007, the University of Nevada School of Medicine celebrated the groundbreaking of the first new medical research facility to be built at the university in more than 20 years. The Center for Molecular Medicine will house portions of the medical school's basic science research departments and serve as the headquarters for the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease and the northern center for Nevada Cancer Institute.
South Nevada continues to sizzle with growth in gaming and hospitality, while rural economic development is depending on our new transportation expansions and construction on I-80 and I-15, highways through rural Nevada.
Q. What about foreign investment?
A. If we were a country, Nevada would be the third-largest gold provider in the world. Mining is our history. Our precious metals industries have a big impact on exports. Last year, we exported $5.5 billion worth of exports to Switzerland, Canada, China, Japan, and Mexico, and a large portion of that involved precious metals.