Interim Director for the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) Kristopher Sanchez, along with staff members, paid Winnemucca a visit on the latest round of an economic tour throughout rural Nevada.
Sanchez told the group of about 20 local business and community leaders that he has doubled the GOED staff to address the economic needs across Nevada. “It's very important to me that GOED is physically present in our communities and much more engaged in our communities across the entire State,” he said.
GOED was created during the 2011 Session of the Nevada Legislature through a collaboration of the Nevada Governor's Office and the Leadership of the Nevada State Senate and State Assembly. Its mission is to promote “a robust, diversified and prosperous economy in Nevada, stimulating business expansion and retention, encouraging entrepreneurial enterprise, attracting new business and facilitating community development.”
Sanchez and the GOED staff toured Northern Nevada as part of the State’s efforts to revise its strategic plan. “One of the reasons we're out in the regions,” he said, “is to put together the next State plan for economic development for the next decade.” By visiting rural areas, he said it will help formulate a plan which focuses on driving change and creating more opportunities for economic development. “We want to make sure we get those focus points correct throughout the State and throughout our communities … looking at those strategic points where [GOED] can come in and drive those changes that lead to more opportunity.”
GOED staff gave informational presentations highlighting what services and incentives the Office offers. Presentations included the current business environment in Nevada, exporting opportunities, and securing government contracts.
In a separate interview, Sanchez talked about the development of Nevada’s economy especially in rural areas. “I've been at GOED now since 2012 and I look at the evolution of our economy over the last eight years and where we are today, there's a lot of opportunity in a way that maybe we didn't have in the last six years in rural Nevada.” He said it’s time to be strategic and thoughtful in the way the State engages in and encourages economic development. “We're looking at the macro strategies of our communities and the challenges to communities' goals in overcoming those challenges.”
Sanchez said those challenges are catalyst points that offer opportunity to bring stakeholders to the table. He identified a few of the challenges most rural communities face, including Humboldt County as workforce development, access to broadband technology, and housing. He singled out technology as an issue that rural communities need to address. "Most industries in Nevada are very tech intensive,” he said. “Connection matters. One of the things I'm looking for is other examples of smaller communities that have solved this issue. I'm always interested in how we can leapfrog existing technology with new technology that will solve problems.”
After staff presentations, the GOED group toured Google’s Loon facility at the Winnemucca Municipal Airport. Loon offers wireless connectivity via high-altitude balloons and fits right in with Sanchez’s search for leapfrogging technology. The group spent about 45 minutes as Site Manager Casey Tierney guided the group through facilities that build and launch the balloons.
Sanchez said he loves stopping into local businesses and engaging owners about their needs. “What I'm excited about is that there's a lot that we can do,” he said. He knows rural communities face some tough challenges, but he says there are many challenges that can get solved quickly right now. “We have a very unique State,” he said. “And a very large State, and our communities are not all the same. That means we have to look at each community, the attributes and the assets in those communities, and be thoughtful and strategic for each of those communities” moving forward. “I'm of the mind that we roll up our sleeves and get to work,” Sanchez said. “We'll solve the problems we have and build on those opportunities and assets we have in all of our communities.”