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Governor's Plan Restructures Nevada Economic Development, Boosts Funding by 55%

February 02, 2011

Focusing on job growth and promoting the state for new business development, Gov. Brian Sandoval announced his plans to reorganize the Commission on Economic Development into a public-private partnership and increase funding for the state's economic development efforts by an additional $2.2 million in general fund appropriations each year. The governor also included in his 2011-13 biennial budget $10 million in FY12 for a proposed Nevada Catalyst Fund designed as a closing fund to bring new businesses to the state.

Although details on the proposed public-private partnership called Jobs Unlimited have yet to emerge, the governor said in his State of the State address that collaboration and tighter performance indicators would be the metrics of the new system. Many of the economic development proposals touted by the governor build on recommendations from the New Nevada Task Force, convened last year by the lieutenant governor.

The 23-member task force presented nine reports, which included recommendations on technology commercialization and renewable energy development. A subcommittee on technology commercialization recommended adopting a program similar to the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR) with goals including attracting research grants, developing educational programs within the state's universities, and encouraging entrepreneurs to work with established local companies. In his address to the legislature, the governor emphasized technology commercialization, bioscience, renewable energy and defense sector expansion to re-build the state's economy.

The 2011-13 biennial budget as proposed by the governor provides $34.6 million for the Commission on Economic Development, up from $22.4 million last biennium. This includes $17.1 million in general funds for FY12 and $7.1 million in general funds for FY13. Of this amount, $10 million would be directed to a new Nevada Catalyst Fund in FY12 for grants to attract new businesses to the state or assist with expansion of existing businesses. The grant program would be administered through a nonprofit corporation, according to budget documents.

To improve rural broadband access across the state, the governor recommends a one-time appropriation of $3 million to the Department of Administration for the Nevada Broadband Task Force.

Funding for higher education would be cut 7 percent under the governor's proposal. When combined with a loss of one-time federal stimulus dollars, the total reduction is 17.7 percent in available funds.

Gov. Sandoval's 2011-13 budget is available at: http://budget.state.nv.us/budget_2011_13/budget_book/2011-2013%20Executive%20Budget.pdf