Our continued success in attracting technology companies to Nevada depends a great deal on how our elected officials handle key technology issues. Here’s the good news.
Nevada may not be Silicon Valley, but our state is getting its share of new information technology (IT) companies. States across the nation are in fierce competition for what has become the “golden” industry. Technology companies are sought after because they are environmentally friendly, low water users and they pay substantially higher than most other industries. According to the American Electronics Association, high-tech workers earn an average salary of $53,000, a figure that is 80 percent higher than salaries in other industries.
In the southern part of the state, Nevada Development Authority reports the creation of more than 3,000 jobs for this fiscal year with even more expected for next year. In the Northern part of the state, Economic Development of Western Nevada claims closer to 400 new high-tech jobs for the past year.
It seems the industry overall is experiencing tremendous growth after a self-imposed slowdown (and in some cases — shut down) due to the Y2K threats. With the scare behind them, IT companies are implementing projects that were previously on hold and moving forward at an unprecedented rate.
The cost of operating in technology-rich areas, such as Silicon Valley, has become hazardous to the bottom line. However, just across the border, high-tech firms are discovering that land, as well as operating costs, is affordable. An added incentive that attracts many companies to our state is the lower cost of living and quality lifestyle. But perhaps our biggest advantage is Nevada’s relative proximity to California. Company executives find the commute easy and affordable.
Now the bad news.
Nevada still ranks 45th in the nation for technology-related employment. Even with the recent influx of new technology companies, we have a long way to go before we’re in the same league with Silicon Valley.
Our continued success in attracting technology companies to Nevada depends a great deal on how our elected officials handle key technology issues. Among these issues is the Spam Law, passed in 1997 by Nevada legislators in an effort to stop unsolicited commercial e-mail. The law has huge loopholes and has done lime to stop spammers who continue to target Nevadans. The commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution is used by judges as a reason to invalidate state attempts to regulate e-commerce. Consequently, we have a law that is unworkable and is considered by some to be anti-technology. It seems our legislators should revisit the issue during the next session.
Education issues are vital to our state’s ability to attract technology companies. Qualified workers are essential to any company, but high-tech companies have special needs that must be addressed. It’s time Nevada got serious about education reform and put into place workable programs that will provide our residents with high paying jobs, and technology companies with qualified workers. The voucher program is a good example of a workable program that’s being hampered by our political establishment.
On a federal level, you can bet that e-tailers are watching both the feds, and individual states for signs of a pending federal sales tax on e-commerce. State officials across the nation are concerned about lost revenues due to e-commerce. Washington politicians are promising worried state officials assistance in the form of an e-tax that would be collected by the feds and distributed to each state. Technology companies are becoming more politically savvy and they’ll be watching the actions of our elected officials closely on this issue.
Whether you like it or not, technology is the future. Unless those representing our state adopt a pro-technology attitude, eventually Nevada will go the way of the dinosaur.