“We have to find a way to finance infrastructure that gets it done fast and creates a return.” – Gordon Brown, Chair, World Economic Forum, Global Strategic Infrastructure Initiative
As all NAIOP Southern Nevada members are aware, the Infrastructure Bank has sat atop of our issues list for years. In 2017, we worked with RTC to pass AB 399, which created the infrastructure bank. Since that time, it has sat dormant, waiting for an appropriation from any source which would serve as seed-funding to get the bank up and running. Enter Nevada State Treasurer, Zach Conine.
Treasurer Conine approached NAIOP in August to discuss a plan he has which would breathe life into the infrastructure bank. Using a small portion of the CARES Act funding the state received, the Treasurer’s Office along with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (“GOED”), will commission feasibility studies on infrastructure needs they’ve identified as key to sustainable and continued job growth. These studies will include broadband, telecommunications, and e-commerce expansion to respond to public health, distance learning, and economic pressures created by COVID-19; supply chain and last-mile delivery enhancements to improve delivery services impacted by COVID-19; assessing Nevada’s behavioral health care delivery systems to ensure capacity to respond to the impacts of COVID-19, negative economic pressures, and related government stay-at-home orders; retraining Nevada’s workers who have been displaced during the COVID-19 public health emergency; strengthening state systems and processes to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The feasibility studies will then culminate into one final study: the COVID-19 Comprehensive Economic Response Plan. Upon completion of all the studies, the Treasurer’s Office along with GOED will use this information to find private donors to seed the infrastructure bank and get these projects out of the ground. The point of these studies is to be able to cull information in order to sustain our job growth, grow our ability to attract new development, diversify our economy, and use forward thinking to move our state in the right direction, should we encounter another economic downturn. While it does not produce immediate jobs and infrastructure, it does put the ball in motion for Nevada to be a job creator for many years to come and build something that will lead to even more job creation, as businesses who will benefit from the infrastructure, move into Nevada.
This item was taken up during the Interim Finance Committee’s (“IFC”) September 28, 2020 meeting. The committee discussed the studies in depth and debated how the use of CARES funding would be beneficial, if there was not an immediate benefit. To that, the Treasurer’s Office, GOED, and Senator Chris Brooks explained the dire need for infrastructure and “shovel ready dirt” in Nevada. It was explained that while this doesn’t immediately produce construction jobs, it will going forward and it will create a pipeline for job creation as the funding comes in, the infrastructure bank continues its function, and more and more projects are implemented. The goal is to create sustainable job growth for the future in Nevada, while also putting in the much needed infrastructure to attract, build, and bolster business for continued job creation and diversification in the state. One of the most fundamental pieces of this is the study on retraining Nevada workers who have been displaced by the pandemic. Workforce development is a crucial piece of CRE and creating a pipeline where individuals can learn a new trade and get back to work in an industry where they can see continued personal growth, and Nevada realizes diversification of industry, promotes a healthy path forward for our state and keeps people employed. Taking all of this into consideration the IFC approved the money for the studies which will start immediately and be finished around November 30, 2020.
This type of forward thinking and investment into our state is something we have been lacking for a long time. In a year where nothing seems to be moving forward, Nevada seems to be moving full-steam ahead. Let us hope that this project, started 4 years ago now, is the catalyst that brings Nevada out of this pandemic on top and sets us up for a bright and diversified future.
Click here fore the meeting packet from the IFC meeting.
Stay safe –
Jon & Kerrie