Column originally appeared in the August 21 edition of the Las Vegas Sun.
Editor’s note: As he traditionally does around this time every year, Brian Greenspun is turning over his Where I Stand column to others. Today’s guest is Tina Quigley, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance.
Imagine for a moment what transportation would be like in Southern Nevada if we hadn’t built the 215 Beltway.
Imagine what our community would look like today if Sens. Alan Bible and Howard Cannon had not co-sponsored legislation in the mid-1960s to fund the construction of six pumping plants, a reservoir, a4-mile tunnel and 31 miles of pipeline to deliver water from Lake Mead to the Las Vegas Valley or 50 years later water czar Pat Mulroy didn’t have the foresight to add a third straw deeper than anyone thought our community would ever need.
Imagine what it would be like today if the devastating floods and fires that ravaged our community in the 1980s still existed because we chose not to invest billions of dollars in a flood control master plan or enact among the nation’s most stringent building codes.
Imagine what our tourism economy would look like today if visionary entrepreneurs never invested $40 billion in the hotel-casinos that are the lifeblood of our economy or elected officials decided it was just too expensive to spend $2.5 billion to add a third terminal at Harry Reid International Airport.
It’s not hard to imagine; it would look nothing like it does today.
Our community’s economic development strategy is simple: expand and diversify. We do this because it mitigates the risk inherent in having our economy dependent on a single industry, and it creates opportunities for workers. That effort has generally been successful, with a net gain of 11,000 employer businesses in Southern Nevada during the past decade.
Those 11,000 businesses are a return on the investments made by this community during the past 50 years. In much the same way, our community’s prosperity over the next 50 years is largely predicated on the choices we make today.
Imagine for a moment how competitive we will be 50 years from now if we do not ensure that innovative broadband access exists in every home, every business and in every corner of the state of Nevada, thereby giving us the ability to advance smart technologies, automation and telemedicine.
Imagine how competitive we will be in 50 years if we fail to build the infrastructure necessary to harness and transfer Southern Nevada’s abundant clean energy resources that we will need to responsibly power our homes and businesses.
Imagine how competitive we will be in 50 years if we run out of land or water because we choose not to embrace the conservation measures that can so clearly allow development well beyond that time horizon.
Imagine how competitive we will be if we fail to rethink urban mobility and fail to embrace technologies like a high-speed train that can increase capacity along Interstate 15 or The Boring Company Loop that can dramatically decrease congestion throughout the Resort Corridor.
Imagine how competitive we will be in 50 years if we fail to invest in a workforce that is ready, willing and able to contribute to new industries in a new economy.
I am mindful that we live in a world of scarce resources and political realities. Investing in our future has never been more difficult than it is today; it has also never been more important. There are 2.3 million people who call this community home, 1.1 million workers that depend on the stability of the job market and nearly 300,000 students in the Clark County School District that deserve a quality job when they complete their education. We owe it to them to do what those who came before us did for us – invest in the future of Southern Nevada.