The Governor’s Office of Economic Development wants to target companies that will bring higher paying jobs to Nevada.
“Our focus for the next two years will be on jobs that improve the state’s average wage,” GOED Director Steve Hill told the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday.
He said GOED is “on the cutting edge of what will be important to this country in the world for decades to come.”
“Our focus needs to be on improving average wages and improving the opportunities people have to improve their lives,” he said.
He said lawmakers will see that in a bill he said will “narrow abatements for companies paying less than the average wage.”
GOED has received some criticism for granting tax abatements and other breaks to companies that pay only a little more than the minimum wage.
“We’re starting to have a little more sophisticated view of how we treat abatements and how we treat them moving forward,” he said.
He said that means targeting aerospace, defense, information technology manufacturing and logistics among other business sectors.
Hill said the department has proposed a bill that would limit tax abatements given to companies which pay below Nevada’s average wage of $20.63 an hour.
Hill described the Catalyst Fund as one of GOED’s most valuable tools in bringing quality companies to Nevada. He said the board has approved 14 Catalyst grants worth just more $10 million and have generated 3,814 jobs.
He said those grants “are a significant part and, in many cases, the difference between these companies being in Nevada and not.”
He emphasized that Catalyst awards to local governments, which then funnel the money to the appropriate businesses, are not just awarded, and those funds require certain threshholds of job creation and investment to be made.
“Until that threshold is met, that money is not earned and, therefore, not granted,” he said.
He urged the committee to follow Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommendation and replenish the Catalyst Fund with $10 million. The department’s proposed budget is around $8.4 million a year.
The testimony came during the opening day of Senate Finance’s review of the governor’s recommended budget.