LEGISLATURE 2011: Governor, legislative leaders, meet with high-tech

Having a skilled worked force and a business friendly tax climate are both key to luring high tech industries to Nevada, a state ravaged by record unemployment, bankruptcies and foreclosures, industry executives said Monday.

Representatives of high-tech industries met with Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and Democratic and Republican legislative leaders in a round-table discussion described by one participant as "unprecedented."

The gathering around a conference table piled with fruit and finger food was touted as a show of bipartisanship and cooperative effort to diversify Nevada's economy.

The executives are all members of TechAmerica, a trade association for technology firms.

"Jobs, jobs, jobs" has been the mantra of the 2011 Legislative session that began Feb. 7. And while Democratic leaders have their differences with the new Republican governor over the budget, both sides of the aisle have stayed on message that working together and creating jobs is priority No. 1 this session.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said the discussion with executives of TechAmerica focused on "what would it take for them to come to Nevada."

In answer to that question, Paul Miner, government affairs manager for General Electric Co., said "first and foremost what you're seeing around this table." He called the bipartisan front "unprecedented."

But Miner also said, "you need a well-educated work force to get to work."

Kevin Doyle, with Paris-based Capgemini, agreed, especially when it comes to specific skills required in the technology fields.

His consulting and technology firm recently located in Nevada, he said, and had to import staff because it could not find trained workers.

Sandoval said he was encouraged by the executives' comments.

"This is one of the reasons I am optimistic of the future of Nevada," he told reporters, who were briefly invited to ask questions after the closed discussions concluded.

Sandoval has proposed deep cuts to both K-12 and Nevada's colleges and universities. Democrats counter the cuts would counterproductive to a state trying to claw its way out of the Great Recession.

But both Sandoval and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford seemed in agreement that the state's higher learning institutions, particularly community colleges, need to align their curriculums to meet the needs of business and industries.

"This is going to be another side of what you're going to see this legislative session - getting people back to work," the governor said.

Horsford said the goal is to better "connect employees with employers," and suggested that altering course work to reflect business needs is something that could be accomplished quickly.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment