As a long-time Nevadan, I’ve always been proud to say our state is among the nation’s most business friendly. However, with recent legislative action, we’ve lost much of our edge and we can no longer tout Nevada as a beacon for new business.
Take for example, my friend Dave, who owns a successful promotional products company. He was courted by economic development officials to come to Nevada from his company’s base in California. Lured by a favorable tax structure and abundant labor pool, he relocated his business to Southern Nevada in 2010. That was before the commerce tax, revenue bond repayment assessment for employers and before the labor market tightened up.
So, what was a favorable business environment when Dave came to town seven years ago, is no longer conducive for him to make a profit. While his biggest issue is finding talent in a marketplace that has less than five percent unemployment, the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back is the additional taxes imposed on his business since he located here. Dave is moving his business to Arizona and taking with him his contributions to our economy. And Dave’s company is not the only one leaving for a more business friendly environment.
CNBC released its study of the nation’s top states for business for 2016. The survey measures such things as workforce, cost of doing business, infrastructure, economy, quality of life, technology and innovation, education, business friendliness, cost of living and access to capital. While they ranked Nevada 40th in the nation, our neighbor to the north, Utah, was at the top of the list, ranking higher than Nevada in every category measured.
Meanwhile, Forbes Magazine also released their list of best states for business, again ranking Utah as the best in the nation. According to their poll, Nevada’s ranking was at 32, still in the bottom half, but a bit rosier that the CNBC scorecard. And, while the measurements used were a bit different, Utah still out preformed our state in every category.
It’s interesting that we often tout the disadvantages of doing business in California. And, economic developers are always optimistic they can lure companies across the border from California to Nevada. However, the CNBC poll put them at 32, eight places ahead of our state, with the Forbes survey putting them two positions ahead of us. So what makes us so much better for business? Apparently, not a lot.
I’d like to report bright spots in the surveys, but I can’t seem to find them. Obviously, our education ranking, at the bottom of the nation, hurts us tremendously and makes it difficult to recruit new companies. As our educational system is directly related to our workforce issues, it’s evident we need to stop talking about the failures of the system and get it totally replaced. Yes, it’s a big problem, but it’s not insurmountable. And, I don’t believe for one minute its a money issue.
It’s often been said that you must first recognize there’s a problem before you can begin to fix it. Well folks we’ve got a problem. We need to stop drinking our own Kool-Aid and turn this disturbing trend around. It needs to start at the state level. Our elected officials must stop raising taxes and imposing new regulations on businesses. If business owners can’t make a profit here, they will simply relocate to a more business friendly state. And, who can blame them?
CALL TO ACTION: Let’s keep our promises to folks like Dave. And while it may be too late for his company, there are plenty of others in the state we need to protect and retain.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”