Folks who have lived in Nevada at least five years will remember times when the state’s biggest challenge was keeping up with growth: we couldn’t build houses or commercial buildings fast enough to keep up with demand, prices for residential and commercial real estate were spiraling out of control and infrastructure like roads and utilities lagged far behind the growth curve. Companies from out of state were rushing into Nevada to participate in our boom economy, and we were bursting at the seams.
Now that this economic model has been turned upside down, has Nevada stopped being attractive to businesses? Not at all. Certainly we’re facing challenges, but there is an up-side to the down economy that makes the Silver State a golden opportunity for businesses that want to relocate or expand. These opportunities are exactly what Nevada should be promoting to businesses looking to move. Let’s move away from the “Sin City” image and back to an image that shows what a great investment Nevada is for businesses.
Nevada has always had low business taxes, and hopefully the upcoming Legislature will keep them that way. We have no corporate income tax, no personal income tax, no inventory tax and competitive rates on sales and property taxes. For more information on these advantages, visit the website operated by the Nevada Commission on Economic Development (diversifynevada.com). Now that the real estate bubble has burst, housing is again affordable, with homebuilders offering deep discounts, and a plentiful supply of available resale homes, including bargains on foreclosures and short sales. This is bad news for sellers, but good news for companies that want to make sure their employees can afford to buy or rent a home in Nevada.
Commercial real estate rates are the lowest they’ve been in years, with vacancy rates at historical highs. For a company looking for office, retail or industrial space, the opportunities are virtually endless. It may be bad news for commercial developers, but it’s great news for an out-of-state company looking for a headquarters, warehouse or retail outlet.
Nevada has received a lot of negative publicity because it has the nation’s highest unemployment rate – still over 14 percent. The flip side to that is we have a workforce that is willing and eager to work at reasonable wages. Another positive is that many out-of-work Nevadans are computer literate, college graduates and have other skills employers are seeking.
Recent success stories from both ends of the state show that it’s possible for businesses to succeed and grow here despite the recession. OHL, which operates a transportation and logistics hub in Sparks, expanded twice in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, creating 150 new jobs. Defense contractor Sierra Nevada Corporation continued its growth by expanding and hiring 40 employees at its Sparks headquarters, adding more than $14 million in economic impact to the region in the same time period.
In Southern Nevada, online retailer Zappos.com recently announced plans to not only stay in Las Vegas, but to redevelop the current Las Vegas City Hall building into a new corporate headquarters when city officials move into their new building in 2012. The move is expected to create at least 1,000 new jobs and help revitalize the downtown area. “Zappos could’ve gone anyplace in the world,” Mayor Oscar Goodman was quoted as saying. “If Zappos chose Las Vegas over any other place in the world they could’ve gone to, there must be a reason.”
While there are a number of reasons Nevada is a great place to do business, the recession has provided even greater benefits for companies seeking to relocate. It has put us in a position of providing value for the first time in several years. And while our economic development agencies throughout the state work hard to attract new business, they can’t do it alone. As we enter a new year, I challenge executives throughout the state to use their contacts and resources to help diversify the economy and bring new companies to Nevada. As with most issues facing our state, the role and leadership of business executives can play a critical role in the success of economic development.