Mesquite, Nev., is located about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, and its appeal to tourists is like many of Nevada’s rural areas – vast open lands with modern amenities – such as casinos.
Nevada Assemblyman Chris Edwards said in December he believes the benefit of car manufacturer Faraday Future will reach rural towns like Mesquite.
As part of a special series interviewing mayors throughout our state, Allan Litman joins KNPR to talk about the state of the city in Mesquite.
On the challenge of being part of the Clark County School District, which is headquartered 80 miles away:
"The situation as I see it, and I've worked in school districts in the past, we're an outlying area. And for some reason, what we need does not seem to trickle down this far. Everything gets centered near the headquarters... Clark County schools are certainly overloaded with administrators and lacking in other areas. Being a prime example, we're trying to get a new gym facility here and it's extremely difficult. We're basically forgotten about up here in Mesquite. A number of consultants I talked with in the school district didn't even know about Mesquite, literally."
On the current state of the economy:
"It's starting to pick up. The news media made it seem a little bit worse. I was living here during those years, the boom years of the early 2000s. We did have one casino close. The rationale behind the closing of it I don't think was so much the lack of rooms. It was the cost to bring that casino up to, what I would call, acceptable tourist standards, visitor standards. It was run down. Another casino had closed at the end of 1999, the beginning of 2000, which was extremely poorly funded. And it is now being renovated, not a gaming facility, but it's going to be called the Rising Star Sports Ranch. The owners of the Eureka Casino are doing that and its going to be a beautiful facility and they're already taking reservations for the rooms."
"The biggest problem that hit Mesquite, at least how I envision it, homes were coming up left and right here. So we had rooftops going everywhere. Businesses thought Mesquite was going to be an easy mark. Just move in and we'll get rich in Mesquite because its growing and it will never stop. Of course, when everything hit, a lot of businesses weren't prepared for that downturn. But I see it turning around now."
On the potential for spillover from Faraday Future in North Las Vegas:
"Probably more so in the area of housing. Our housing in Mesquite is less expensive than in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, not by a huge amount but enough. The way of life in Mesquite is extremely good. We're virtually crime free, clean air, minimal traffic. If you've got an employee who wants to work at Faraday and drive all the way out to Apex from Henderson. They could probably get there quicker by living in Mesquite. It's just down the I-15. It positions us really good for housing in Mesquite."
On concerns over water:
We seem to, and all the experts tell us, we are well positioned probably for a city of around 50,000 people. I'll talking about this in my State of City address coming up in a couple of weeks. We're well positioned with water. Is it something we should wasting? Absolutely not. I would encourage people here to if they've got a lawn and they don't really want that green lawn take it out and conserve water. You never know what the future will bring. But right now, I don't think we're suffering the problems much of Las Vegas is, and of course, California.
On what is the biggest economic challenge facing Mesquite:
Our economic challenge is: if businesses come here and need a fairly large workforce we don't have it at this point. We are working on workforce development. But if you look at the demographics of Mesquite, we've got a pretty good majority of retirees and a surprising large number of under 18 year olds... and a number of people that are working. So, we're not in that situation where if somebody approaches us and they want to build a company here that can employee 500 workers. We don't have 500 workers.
On attracting younger people to be part of the workforce:
Workforce development programs are going to be starting. We're going to be getting some classes to train people. Because a lot of them look at Mesquite, and they'll say 'there's no position for us here, so we're going to move on in our lives.' And they'll end up in Las Vegas or something. That is an issue for us right now is finding the employees to fill positions should some of these companies want to relocate in Mesquite.
Allan Litman, mayor, Mesquite, Nev.
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