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Hunt: New energy needed to build state’s economy

John Seelmeyer

Fresh from accepting the resignation of state economic development chief Bob Shriver, Lt.

Gov.

Lorraine Hunt said the state’s industrial economy needs to be turbocharged.

Bob Shriver, the executive director of the Nevada Commission on Economic Development, resigned unexpectedly last week.Hunt serves as chairman of the commission, which was Shriver’s boss.

“The commission wanted to change the way they do things,” Shriver said after he resigned.”Maybe it’s time for me to do what I want to do.” The news release from Hunt’s office announcing Shriver’s resignation said the commission on economic development hoped to take a new direction.

In an interview a couple of days later,Hunt said the group believes that efforts to attract and retain new industry need to be re-energized.

“More than a new direction we want new heights for the economic commission,” she said.

The lieutenant governor said efforts to diversify the state’s economy haven’t been as successful as work to boost the gaming and tourism industry.

“We’re doing very well with tourism.

It’s super-heated,” she said.Hunt also serves as chair of the state Commission on Tourism.

She noted that the just-completed legislative session increased funding for economic development activities in the state.

That funding ranges from marketing dollars a recent campaign has specifically targeted employers in California as well as specific projects such as a rail transloading facility proposed at Elko.

“It’s going to be quite exciting,”Hunt said.

“My goal is to make Nevada the No.

1 place in the world to do business.

This is an opportunity to reinvent the Nevada Commission on Economic Development.” The lieutenant governor said she plans to become more personally involved with the work of the state economic development agency.

Among the areas to which Hunt will be paying even greater attention, said an aide to the lieutenant governor,will be the ability of the state’s colleges and universities to create the labor force required by an increasingly high-tech economy.

The commission will undertake a nationwide search for an executive director to succeed Shriver, who held the post more than eight years.

Tim Rubald, director of business development for the agency,will serve as interim director.

Most of the day-in, day-out work with companies looking for Nevada locations is handled by regional authorities such as the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada and the Northern Nevada Development Authority.

The Commission on Economic Development, however, oversees the programs that provide tax and training incentives for new companies.

The commission also oversees the Made in Nevada program to market the state’s products, the state film office, and programs such as an effort to boost small business sales to state, federal and local government.

“Bob will be missed,” said Ron Weisinger, director of the Carson City-based Northern Nevada Development Authority.”He brought together a good staff, people who are responsive to the needs of the development authorities.” The 57-year-old Shriver, who has worked in economic development for 25 years, said he’s looking at fresh employment opportunities in the field.

He said he’s been thinking about a change for some time.

In announcing Shriver’s resignation,Hunt said his institutional memory will be missed.

She noted, too, that the number of new companies locating to the state rose during Shriver’s eight-year tenure.

Shriver, meanwhile, said he takes pride in the staff he built at the commission “a great group of professionals” and said his tenure also was marked by successful efforts to consolidate and streamline economic development functions of the state government.

Shriver began work in economic development in Nevada in 1981 when he was founding executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority.He also served as vice president of client and marketing services for EDAWN for 12 years before taking the state post in 1996.


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