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February 7, 2012
By John Trent
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval returned to his alma mater on Tuesday morning to help unveil an economic development plan for Nevada that he hopes will create 50,000 jobs by the state's 150th anniversary in 2014.
"This is truly an exciting day," Sandoval said during an event that was held in the Center for Molecular Medicine on the University of Nevada, Reno campus and was streamed live to all member institutions of the Nevada System of Higher Education.
"We chose this venue to underscore the relationship between higher education and economic development," said Sandoval, a 1986 graduate of the University.
Sandoval termed the effort, "Moving Nevada Forward: A Plan for Excellence in Economic Development, 2012-2014," as "regional in nature" to ensure "the most collaboration possible."
He said the plan will position the state to better succeed in a "hyper-competitive" national and international economic marketplace to create much-needed jobs for Nevada.
Sandoval said he was issuing a challenge to all of the partners who will be working to implement and execute the plan to create 50,000 jobs by 2014.
"We must work together to identify all opportunities for all Nevadans," Sandoval said. "Nothing is too small." He added, "Nevadans have a long history of working together to solve problems. It's up to us to capitalize on that fact."
Sandoval added that the broad nature of the plan, which includes a regional economic development focus incorporating leaders and ideas from the state, local governments, businesses, and K-12 and higher education, made it a "historical collaboration."
Included in the plan are initiatives that specifically engage higher education, including increasing industry collaboration and connecting research and development needs with the state's universities, aligning education and workforce development, and advancing knowledge-based industries through partnerships with higher education in areas such as health care, mining and technology and commercialization.
Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said the plan is unique compared to other state plans in that it goes beyond vision, mission and objectives.
Plans for other states, he noted, "don't want to tackle the benchmarks," while the Nevada plan, which includes such detail as specific job creation numbers, contains "accountability." He said the plan is also flexible in that it will be updated yearly, if not more regularly.
"This plan is a living document," he said. "It is intended to bring together economic development in a way that's collaborative."
One example Hill cited was the role that research institutions, such as the University, will play. He said the plan makes "a commitment to technology-based economic development" through partnerships that will be established with the state's research institutions.
"It's another important broadening step in economic development," Hill said of the role of higher education's research mission.
In addition, Hill said Sandoval and his administration will seek private and state funding for the Knowledge Fund, which would direct academic study money toward university research that could be commercialized.
Hill added that education will continue to be a key cog in the state's road to a more diversified economy.
"We all know that we need a higher level of educational achievement to drive this economy forward," Hill said.
University President Marc Johnson, in introducing Sandoval, said it was important to note that Tuesday's event was held on the University campus, and was being streamed live to all Nevada System of Higher Education campuses.
"This is a very needed initiative, given the economic situation in our state," Johnson said of the plan.
Sandoval, who at the beginning of his talk said he was pleased to be "coming home" on Tuesday to the University, said the "Nevada family" was ready to tackle increased economic diversification over the next few years.
The work, he said, wasn't going to be easy.
But then again, Sandoval noted with a confident smile, "Nevadans have never, ever, shied away from challenges."