Couple good economic outlook with caution

Curious about the Nevada Legislature's Economic Forum? Check this out:

When the Economic Forum meeting—a group of nonpartisan, independent financial experts—came before the Legislature on May 1, their news about the outlook for Nevada was positive. It seems that economic projections for the state are better than they have been in years, and the Forum expects Nevada to gain additional revenue over the next two years that will help fund Gov. Brian Sandoval’s various development projects. I almost want to knock on wood with what I’m about to ask, but is Nevada finally coming out of its economic crisis?

While I am cautious not to get my hopes up, I can’t help but be excited by the news of our state’s nascent comeback. Not only is positive news coming from the halls of the Legislature in Carson City, Nevada is getting recognition on the national stage as well. The May 2013 edition of Fast Company magazine features a ranked list of the most innovative states that have “the most thriving startup communities.” Nevada is ranked No. 11, and on a separate sub-list, it is ranked No. 1 for percent of total employment from firms less than 3 years old. Nevada is also ranked No. 1 for its number of fundable entrepreneurs per million residents and No. 2 for fundable investors per million residents.

Yessiree bob, it sure sounds like we are getting back on track.

But it’s important to remember that success breeds complacency. Or, as the character Pete Campbell put it in Mad Men, “’Stable’ is that step backwards between successful and failing.” A projected influx of revenue for Nevada sounds wonderful, but without thoughtful planning for resources and without investment in things that will make more money in the long run (like educational opportunities, jobs or low taxes for profitable businesses that move to Nevada), we could end up back at square one.

This last weekend I had an opportunity to participate in the Reno-Tahoe WordCamp, an event dedicated to teaching all learning levels about how to use the blogging and website design platform WordPress. I was endlessly impressed by the people in Reno’s tech community who put aside their time and effort to teach others how to build their business and programming skills. It was an event all about collaboration and education. It’s events like these that inspire me about the future of Nevada, where people work hard to enable others to achieve and, in doing so, build their own sense of community. In addition, by retaining such talent in the Reno area, we are able to achieve a more cohesive citizenry, especially for Reno’s future in technology that seems to be flourishing more and more every year.

I believe such events are an example of what can be achieved by hard work, efficiency and like-minded individuals. If these same principles are applied to developing Nevada’s economy, especially in the technological sector, then the potential influx of revenue could be an incredible boon. However, Nevada has gone through several years of cutbacks, layoffs and belt cinching, and it will be very tempting to revel in newfound economic prosperity and perhaps make unwise spending choices.

The Economic Forum estimates that another $36.7 million will become available in tax revenue over the next two years, and while that might not sound like a lot (especially compared to Gov. Sandoval’s $6.5 billion budget), it’s hopeful evidence that Nevada is back on track to its pre-recession numbers.

Innovation and collaboration have gotten us this far. With the encouragement of economic growth for new businesses and the rapidly growing technological development of the state, I anticipate a major shift in Nevada’s image over the next decade.