RENO — “We will incentivize and reward change,” Gov. Brian Sandoval told an audience of business and civic leaders Thursday morning at the Grand Sierra Resort during Directions 2012, the annual economic forum held in northern Nevada.
Building on the conference’s “game changer” theme, Sandoval promised that public-private partnerships would be ramped up under his administration in order to help grow the regional economy.
“Together, we are building something new,” he said, citing the creation of a cabinet-level position for economic development within his office as one example.
With a full year now under his belt as governor, Sandoval took the opportunity to address where he believes positive changes have already occurred. He began with educational reforms passed during last year’s state legislative session.
“Improving our schools … is critical,” he said, “but we have other challenges,” and workforce development, or job creation, is chief among them.
An estimated 165,000 Nevadans remain unemployed, and 115,000 jobs have been lost since 2009, Sandoval said.
Creating incentives for businesses to hire is key to Sandoval’s platform, and he said he wants to ensure that all Nevada National Guard personnel returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are able to find good jobs.
One of Sandoval’s first orders of business upon entering the governor’s office last year was an executive order calling for a review of all state regulations. That review is now complete, Sandoval said. Nearly 1,700 regulations were identified for repeal, condensation or modernization. Most of the affected regulations involve the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Taxation.
“My goal is to have Nevada be the most business-friendly state,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval also said he wanted to transform the state’s gaming industry, possibly to include Internet poker, and move toward a green energy policy and make reforms to control Medicaid costs.
“Think big, go big,” he said, as a kind of mantra for the second year of his term.
Sandoval spoke at the Directions 2011 event and was famously chided for his “optimistic” rhetoric. But he pressed that message forward Thursday.
“And yes, I am still optimistic about the future of our great state,” he said.