By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2019 Issue
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed Senate Bill 358 into law in April, updating the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which sets the minimum amount of electricity that big Nevada electricity providers must get from clean, renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal. This new legislation requires 50 percent of the electricity generated in the state to be from renewable sources by 2030.
In a release, Gov. Sisolak stated, “Nevada is poised to meet the growth of clean energy that the RPS will bring. In Nevada, we’ve seen roughly 45 renewable energy projects developed through the Governor’s Office of Energy’s Renewable Energy Tax Abatement Program. These projects bring clean jobs and economic opportunities to all corners of our state, urban and rural.” He continued, “These projects power Nevada’s homes and businesses while creating 8,600 construction jobs and bringing nearly $8 billion in capital investment to the Silver State.”
According to the governor’s office, Nevada’s clean energy jobs totaled more than 32,000 at the end of 2018 and meeting the targets of Nevada’s new RPS could support an additional 11,170 full-time jobs by 2030, and generate $539 million in wages and $1.5 billion in economic activity.
“Increasing Nevada’s RPS will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and improve our air quality and support our goals as the newest member of the U.S. Climate Alliance,” Sisolak said. “By using more clean energy, we’ll reduce our carbon emissions and the smog-forming pollution that comes from fossil fuels—decreasing our use of pollutants in the air that our children breathe every day.”
Formed in 2017, the United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Nevada now has one of the most aggressive renewable portfolio standards in the country.
“Renewable energy is a major cornerstone of my economic development plan, and this bill will put Nevada back on the path toward renewable energy leadership on a nationwide level and continue to bring well-paying jobs to our communities,” Sisolak said in a statement. “Today, Nevada sent a message to the country and world that the Silver State is open for business as a renewable leader.”
HENDERSON, NV: GROWING ALL WAYS
AviSight Inc. combines the power of artificial intelligence and the maneuverability of drones in a fast-growing business that brings high-tech industrial inspections to electric utilities, oil companies and other customers.
But when AviSight’s tech-savvy leaders decided to locate the company’s headquarters in Henderson, Nevada, traditional values played an important role in their choice.
These people-centric values were reflected in both the warm relationships the company’s leaders established with municipal leaders as well as the nearby peaceful and affordable residential neighborhoods that help the company attract and retain top talent.
As Henderson draws highly skilled workers from California who want a better life for themselves and their families, sophisticated employers such as AviSight are taking advantage of the talent pool and setting down roots in the city.
The city, already the third largest in Nevada, is booming. The population grew by more than 12 percent from 2013 to 2017, and Department of Motor Vehicles data shows that 56 percent of the newcomers came from The Golden State.
Residential developer Rich MacDonald sees the impact first-hand. California transplants looking for better quality of life and affordable living costs accounted for 70 percent of the sales at his MacDonald Highlands community in 2018, he says.
The new residents further strengthen a workforce that already has the skills that command good wages. The average earnings for a worker in Henderson were $58,888 last year, about 3 percent higher than the average across the Las Vegas metropolitan area.
The growing pool of skilled, motivated workers provides a powerful inducement for the growing cluster of next-generation companies in Henderson.
Michael Frechette, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of AviSight, says his company’s proximity to Nellis Air Force Base provides a steady pipeline of professionals with high-level skills in drone technology.
Those employees, as well as others recruited by the growing company, appreciate the attractive and safe suburban neighborhoods of Henderson, Frechette says, as well as its quick access to McCarran International Airport and downtown Las Vegas.
Like other companies that have located in Henderson, AviSight credits the city government—particularly the Economic Development Office that’s a part of the city itself—with exceptional cooperation. “During our national site search, we made multiple connections with the leadership of Henderson,” Frechette says. “They were very welcoming to us.”
That welcome includes a business-friendly tax structure: No state corporate or personal income tax, and city property taxes that are the lowest in the region by 30 percent.
But recognizing the need to deliver exceptional service as they compete against other locations in the Intermountain West, members of the Economic Development Office in Henderson focus on every little detail as they work with relocating companies.
The city staff, for example, helps newly-located companies work through the details of fees and permit filings. It works closely with entrepreneurs who are building startup companies in Henderson.
And oftentimes the city staff does much more.
GreenSense Farms, an Indiana company that specializes in indoor agriculture, had been contacted by a large potential customer on the Las Vegas Strip that wanted to buy all its fresh greens from a local, indoor-agriculture facility.
Unable to find reasonably priced land elsewhere in the Las Vegas urban area, GreenSense Farms executives began working with the Economic Development Office at the City of Henderson. They helped GreenSense Farms identify a one-acre, city-owned parcel that could be the site of a vertical-farming operation and set the wheels in motion for the company’s acquisition of the site.
City officials note that their work with GreenSense Farms represents more than solid economic diversification. The company also will provide year-round retail sales of the greens and herbs it grows, meeting the desire of residents for more locally-grown fresh produce at affordable prices. Plus, the company has pledged its support for the community gardens that are becoming common throughout older neighborhoods of Henderson.
The Raiders of the National Football League, meanwhile, worked closely with Henderson leaders to locate the team’s new corporate headquarters and practice facility in the city. Expected to employ about 250 when it opens in 2020, the Raiders facility serves as an anchor for other new development. Stable Development, for instance, is building The Village, a 300,000-square-foot upscale retail and office project near the Raiders facility. The Village is scheduled for completion in early 2020.
Companies such as GreenSense Farms, AviSight and the Raiders are driving rapid employment growth in Henderson. The city already accounts for about 11 percent of the jobs in the Las Vegas Valley, reports Emsi, a labor-market analysis firm. This trend appears to be going nowhere but up.
John Restrepo, principal of Las Vegas-based RCG Economics, projects that employment in Henderson will increase by 19 percent in the next decade. This expected growth will subsequently strengthen Henderson’s position as a leading employment center in Southern Nevada.
Restrepo estimates that Henderson’s population will grow by 13 percent in the next decade, and it already accounts for 23 percent of the new-home sales in the Las Vegas region. And to keep up with the fast pace of job growth, employers in Henderson during the next decade will be tapping into the regional workforce, 1 million strong, that lives within a 50-minute commute of the city.
“In an economy increasingly driven by highly skilled workers who deliver significant value to next-generation enterprises, Henderson is uniquely situated to become a leading regional player,” says Ken Chapa, acting director of Economic Development and Tourism for the City of Henderson.
FALLON, NV: ALWAYS CONNECTED
Home to the Naval Air Station Fallon, the U.S. Navy’s premier training facility for all Naval aviators and Navy SEALs, Churchill County is powered entirely by renewable energy from geothermal, solar and hydro-electric sources with residents consuming just one-tenth of what Churchill County produces.
The City of Fallon is located in Churchill County, the beautiful Oasis of Nevada and gateway to the Great Basin for those travelling east over the Sierra Nevada, one hour’s drive from Reno and 90 minutes from scenic Lake Tahoe. As the gateway to the Great Basin, Churchill County boasts abundant hunting and fishing, bird watching and breath-taking recreational opportunities. Centrally located in Northern Nevada, Fallon is only a short drive from some of the finest outdoor recreation areas in the country, as well as ghost towns, historical sites and the historic mines of Nevada’s past.
NAS (Naval Air Station) Fallon, home of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, is Churchill County’s leading and still growing economic contributor. The 14,000-foot runway remains the longest in the Navy, making Fallon a one-stop training facility unequaled throughout the military. Over 3,000 active duty personnel, civilian employees and DoD contractors enjoy a high quality of life that is enhanced by the numerous facilities on base and by those within the surrounding areas.
Diverse agriculture resulting from the nation’s first Reclamation Project follows with over 197,000 acres in production. Most of that acreage supports the 24 local dairies that account for 85 percent of Nevada’s dairy farms and provide milk to the Dairy Farmers of America whole milk powder plant. Over 56,000 of those acres produce specialty and row-crops, including an emerging gluten-free teff grain industry as well as a local vineyard and Nevada’s first estate distillery, the award-winning Frey Ranch Distillery.
All this contributes to the area’s strong, natural resource-based economy, including a diverse population of skilled workers and a very pro-business environment.
Located at the historical crossroads of current highways US50 and US95 and within the I-80 and future I-11 corridors, the area is just miles from the Tahoe Regional Industrial Center—home of Tesla, Panasonic, Google, Switch and now Blockchains. The realignment of the original transcontinental railroad crosses Churchill County and is serviced by both Union Pacific and BNSF. The Fallon Industrial Lead and the Mina Branch, both serviced by Union Pacific, have excess rail capacity and available existing switches.
Other large non-rail served parcels are located along the identified transportation corridors also suitable for development. Within the City of Fallon numerous shovel-ready parcels are available, including those located at the New River Business Park, the Hospital Medical Campus and the Fallon Municipal Airport in the newly designated Opportunity Zone. All of this is connected to the world through gigabit broadband service offered through locally owned CC Communications.
The Churchill County School District serves approximately 3,273 students, and consists of one high school (grades 9-12), one middle school (grades 6-8), three grade level schools (grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5) and one early learning center (Pre-K). Oasis Academy, the local charter school, serves approximately 148 students in grades K-12. All Churchill County schools contribute to, and reflect, the community pride and support for student achievement in academics, sports and extracurricular activities. Fallon also is home to a local campus of the Western Nevada College (WNC) and its Rural Centers. WNC is a comprehensive community college that serves more than 5,000 students each year across an 18,000-square-mile service area, offering a diverse curriculum and multiple degrees.
Banner Community Hospital is one of the 29 hospitals and care facilities in the non-profit Banner Health network. This 25-bed critical access hospital has full emergency and surgical facilities, is home to a dedicated care-flight facility for air transport and recently completed a $10 million upgrade to its emergency room. Fallon also has a renowned urgent care facility, many medical practitioners and an emerging Medical Campus.
Businesses thrive in Fallon and Churchill County, boasting four Small Business Award winners for the state of Nevada in the past five years. Perazzo Brothers Dairy was recognized as Export Business of the Year in 2015. In 2016, Lattin Farms as Rural Business of the Year and Nevada Tannery as Microenterprise Business of the Year. This year the area celebrates Kent’s Supply Center, the oldest retailer in Nevada, with the SBA Nevada Legacy Business of the Year.