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LVGEA, Chamber Joining Hands On Education


There's no need to be reminded,

Nevada's educational system has for years been ranked in the bottom of the nation.

Last year, though, state lawmakers enacted a record tax plan to bolster school funding.

When that happened, the relatively new group, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, was seen as a champion for schools, pushing for the increased tax.

For years, other groups had said they saw the need for improved schools. But then little would ever get done on the state level. Many pointed fingers at the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

But it's a different time. And now the LVGEA and the Chamber are joining forces and they’re holding a summit at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts Monday. It is being called the B.E. Engaged summit.

John Guedry is the chairman of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. He told KNPR’s State of Nevada that most businesses would agree that their greatest assets are their employees, but those employees need the skills to be successful, which is where education comes in.

“Both the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance and the Las Vegas Metro Chamber and many of our other partners in our summit agree that we should be working together as a business community and supporting the work that the Legislature did in 2015 to ensure that we have a trained workforce not only for today but well into the future,” he said.

He said STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, education and careers are vital. He also said there would be a major announcement about STEM education at the summit.

Besides a focus on STEM, Guedry said the summit will feature nonprofit groups that are currently working to improve education. The idea is to link local businesses with nonprofits to improve education even further.

“Those programs have been successful they would be far more successful with support from the business community if we could expand it out by using the talents of the business community,” he said.

Guendry said the chamber is hoping to align their efforts with the efforts already laid out by the Legislature last year.

“What works in communities where public education systems are successful is when the entire community are part of the solution,” he said, “They are engaged in the process. They’re not depending on someone else dealing with it.”

Ray Specht is the chairman of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance. He said one out of three companies that look at setting up shop in Southern Nevada walk away because of the education system.

He believes the business community can build on what lawmakers did last year to improve education.

“It’s now our turn in the business community to step up and say how we can help,” Specht said, “How we can contribute? How we can be involved? What can the business community do to collaborate with the Clark County School District?”   

He said a better education system will mean more jobs, a stronger economy, and more companies moving here. He also said a better education system will improve our community’s overall culture, which is a determining factor for many companies looking to locate here.  

 “Public education is everybody’s responsibility,” Specht said.  

John Guedry, chairman of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce;  Ray Specht, chairman of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.