Nevada business leaders believe the biggest challenges facing the business community include the quality and availability of the state’s workforce, the public education system, and increasing healthcare costs. Despite those concerns, the vast majority of business leaders are confident their company revenues will grow in 2017, with most expecting to hire and train additional employees.
Of the nearly 200 business leaders surveyed, more than half (51 percent) cited the quality and availability of the workforce as the No. 1 challenge for Nevada businesses. Half of respondents (50 percent) cited concerns about the education system, followed by health care costs (37 percent), business taxes (24 percent) and business regulations (22 percent).
The Nevada Business Leader survey was conducted statewide by WestGroup Research in January of 2017, and funded by Bank of Nevada and First Independent Bank, divisions of Western Alliance Bank.
“The business community is sending a clear and unified message about the need for improvements to our public K-12 education system,” said John Guedry, Bank of Nevada CEO. “Our ability to diversify Nevada’s economy is absolutely tied to the improvements we make in educational outcomes, student proficiencies, higher graduation rates and expansion of workforce training.”
Asked to define the benefits of doing business in Nevada, most participants cited quality of life (63 percent), tax structure (51 percent) and climate/weather (43 percent). However, when analyzing the results only from Southern Nevada participants, the rankings changed. Southern Nevadans cited tax structure (56 percent) as the No. 1 benefit of doing business in Nevada. The climate/weather ranked second (54 percent), followed by the low cost of doing business (39 percent), placing those attributes higher in importance than statewide results. Southern Nevadans ranked quality of life in fourth place (38 percent).
Other highlights from the Business Leader Survey include:
STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
More than half of Nevada business leaders (55 percent) feel increasing the pool of STEM graduates would be among the actions having the most positive impact on Nevada.
The majority of business leaders (62 percent) believe the recent presidential election will have a positive impact on their business sector. That was followed by (19 percent) citing no effect, and (18 percent) citing a negative impact.
Local Government Action
Respondents were asked to prioritize the actions local government could take to enhance the state’s business climate. Again, educational issues and workforce training were most often cited. The majority, (59 percent), said improving K-12 education would benefit the business climate for their company. Other responses included community college training/workforce development (41 percent), streamlining the business permit process (33 percent), approving more affordable housing developments (27 percent) and increasing efforts to ease traffic and road congestion (26 percent).
State Government Action
Business leaders feel state government can also take action to improve the business climate for their companies. The largest group, (57 percent), cited pro-business tax policies, followed by an increase in K-12 funding (38 percent), further streamline regulatory and permit approvals (33 percent), increase higher education funding (30 percent), invest in traffic relief/transportation improvements (25 percent), reduce public pension costs (20 percent), create more affordable housing (17 percent), invest in broadband infrastructure (15 percent), targeted industry incentives (12 percent), enhance access to capital (10 percent), and enhance research and development capacity (9 percent).
Overall, the vast majority (87 percent) of Nevada business leaders are confident about the future. Forty-eight (48) percent feel “somewhat confident” that their revenue will increase in the next 12 months, followed by (39 percent) who are “very confident.”
With more confidence, many businesses leaders plan to increase investment in the coming year. A majority plan to hire additional employees (56 percent), provide additional training (52 percent), increase their marketing/promotion (52 percent), expand information technology (39 percent), expand product development (19 percent), improve data analytics (17 percent) and implement automation (13 percent).