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New GOED Boss Promises Approach That 'Matches Nevada Today'

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barrick.com

Michael Brown, former president of Barrick USA, receiving the 2017 Public Education Foundation’s Education Hero Award

The new head of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is an old hand in Nevada.

Gov. Steve Sisolak reached into his own Cabinet to make Michael Brown executive director of the state’s economic development agency.

Brown had been serving as director of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry. Before that, he was a longtime top executive for Barrick Gold and based in Henderson.

He said his experience in the Las Vegas and Reno metropolitan areas as well as managing mining operations in rural Nevada give him familiarity and insight into the state’s business community.

High on his to-do list is updating GOED’s strategic plan, which hasn’t been revised in almost a decade.

“It’s my job to try to draft a new economic development plan that matches Nevada today,” he told State of Nevada.

Brown noted that the current plan was released in 2012, written in 2011 and it's based on data from 2010.

He said the state has changed. There are more millennials than baby boomers in the workforce and it is a majority-minority state. In addition, the priorities have changed in that time.

Brown and the rest of GOED will be working with the Brookings Mountain West and Pew Research Institute to craft the new plan. But he also wants to talk with labor unions, business leaders and others to build a consensus on the future of Nevada.

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“I need to better understand where we’re going in economic development, where the economy is going, where our gaps are, for instance in health and sports are two areas that we probably need to do more… and then finally it is very important to benchmark this against competition," he said. 

The state's competitors are nearby states that might be attractive to businesses. Brown will be looking at what Utah, Colorado and Arizona are doing right. 

For instance, in the area of health care, Utah has streamlined its occupational licensing policies, allowing health care professionals to get licensed more easily there.

“I’m working now with the director of business and industry to see what we can do in the area of occupational licensing,” he said.

GOED and other economic development agencies around the country have been known for going after big corporations with tax incentives. That is one way Nevada brought Tesla's gigafactory to Reno.

However, Brown said after Amazon's hunt for a second headquarters a lot of states and cities reconsidered if large incentive packages were really the right thing to do.

Gov. Sisolak asked him to review the incentive idea and he's currently doing that.

Going forward, Brown believes there are opportunities to bring international business to the Silver State.

“This is a great international city here in Las Vegas. And Reno also has its international ties now with it’s emerging technology community,” he said.

He said Las Vegas is known as a "convening city" where decision-makers come to meet and talk. He would like it to go further.

“I would hope they pause a little bit longer and consider not only meeting here but living and working here,” he said.

 

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Michael Brown, executive director, Governor's Office of Economic Development

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