If you think Nevada is finally doing something positive in relation to its defunct education system, you might want to shake Tom Skancke’s hand the next time you see him.
Skancke is the CEO of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance. The Alliance’s mission? To draw new business to Nevada.
But over the last three years, Skancke began to understand clearly one of the biggest obstacles to new businesses: education.
Good companies didn’t want to move here because the state’s school system is so poorly ranked.
Skancke told KNPR's State of Nevada the story of a South Korea company that was interested in setting up shop in Nevada, pulling out a Las Vegas Review-Journal article detailing failings of Nevada's education system.
"They asked: 'why should we come here?'" Skancke said. "I didn't have an answer."
So Skancke worked with the governor’s office and state lawmakers, focusing on schools. He is a big part of the reason the governor’s $1.1 billion tax increase, most of that directed at schools, passed the Legislature.
“It was time for the business community to step up and take a leadership role and say, 'we're going to fix this this time' and our board did that,” Skancke said.
He said 85 companies did not locate to Nevada because of the lack of a skill workforce and education problems.
Skancke dismissed the long held belief that low taxes has helped bring business to the state.
“If our tax structure was so great then why isnt’ IBM and Microsoft and Lockheed Martin and Boeing and US Bank and Wells Fargo and Bank of America, why aren’t their corporate headquarters here?” the long-time lobbyist pointed out.
Skancke believes it is important that Nevada understands it can no longer rely on one business and must diversify.
“We can no longer continue to allow ourselves to count on the gaming and tourism industry to bail us out of every situation in this state,” he said.
Skancke is resigning from the Alliance this month.
Tom Skancke, chief executive officer, Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance