Nevada Part VIII: Looking Forward, Looking Back
November – December 2014
Nevada rides the mining rollercoaster…again.
BY RON SOODALTER
Ghost towns are romantic. Sure-thing tourist attractions, they call to mind an earlier era. And Nevada purportedly has more ghost towns than any other state in the Union. Romance aside, however, it must be remembered that each of those historic towns, complete with shuttered buildings and deserted streets was once a thriving, bustling community, many if not most of them staking their very existence on a mining boom. And time after time, as the color faded from the “diggings,” the town went from boom to bust. This trend
first revealed itself during Nevada’s earliest territorial days, and continued well into the 20th century. And still, developers, investors, and large corporations continued to put money into the latest strikes, only to be eventually disappointed.
The mid-1970s saw a number of dramatic changes in Nevada’s mining industry. Most significantly, after reigning over the state’s commercial mineral output for six decades, copper production slowed radically, initiating the closing of one operation after another. However, other minerals—most notably, molybdenum and barite—had come along to take its place, and as metal prices rose both here and abroad, production increased exponentially. Companies that had put their proverbial eggs in the copper basket were now pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the development of other minerals. The Anaconda Copper Company invested some $200 million in a huge molybdenum operation near Tonopah, and other developers and investors followed suit elsewhere in the state. Between 1979 and 1982, mining production more than doubled, topping out at an impressive $526 million. Nevadans awaited a boom that would dwarf all that had come before.
As the 1970s ended, however, Nevada’s mining industry once again began to undergo the familiar dizzying rise and fall that had plagued it for more than a century. By 1982, molybdenum and barite followed copper in a rapidly spiraling decline, as a number of the major mines closed, causing a drop in employment that was the worst in decades. Only a growth in the extraction and processing of gold, coupled with expansion in the oil industry, saved the state’s mining business.
If Nevadans were looking for a balanced economy, mining was not the answer. As state historian Russell R. Elliott accurately pointed out, since Nevada’s earliest days, “not a single town based on mining went on to develop the stability and prosperity of Reno and Las Vegas.” However, the “stability and prosperity” that illuminated Nevada’s two largest gaming communities did not come without a cost. The decade of the 1980s did not always reflect Nevada in the best possible light. As the state saw a major population boom, it’s share of troubles often seemed to grow commensurately. While its reputation took a hit, and some unsavory characters moved to the Silver State, truth is, by this time, the days of organized crime in Nevada were numbered.
MODERNIZING LAS VEGAS
Since the early 1940s, the Mob had been insinuating itself into Nevada’s gaming industry. With the coming of gaming regulation and legitimate moneyed investors, however, the face of gambling in the state would rapidly improve. The late 1950s saw the advent of the Gaming Control Board, at which point, as University of Nevada history professor William Rowley put it, “the industry begins to attract legitimate capital into casino investments. The world was invited to invest in Nevada gambling.” Organized crime still maintained a strong presence, purchasing Caesars Palace and Circus Circus with loans from the Teamsters Union’s Pension Fund, but insofar as the Mob’s involvement in Nevada’s gaming industry was concerned, the writing was on the wall.
One of the first large-scale “non-Mob” investors—and clearly the most visible—was billionaire Howard Hughes. In the 1960s, he bought the Desert Inn, the Sands, and the Frontier. At the same time, and into the 1970s, fellow mogul Kirk Kerkorian was buying and building high-end casinos on the Strip. Suddenly, it became not only highly profitable, but respectable, to invest in Nevada’s gaming industry.
In 1989, Steve Wynn opened a mega- resort the Mirage Hotel and Casino with partial funding by financier Michael Milken. It represented a whole new way of doing business. In the words of historian Michael Green of the Community College of Southern Nevada, “As big as the Mob was, they couldn’t work through Michael Milken or the stock market.”
With the 1990s came the steady demolition of the Strip’s old casinos, as huge billion-dollar mega-resorts took their place, each with its own theme. They competed for top-name acts, and created what amounted to theme parks to attract families from all over the world. Almost overnight, guests were invited to sail in a pirate ship on a man-made sea, meander through a recreation of Victorian New York City, or ascend a dizzying 46 stories to the observation deck of a scale replica of the Eiffel Tower.
Perhaps the most perfect marriage of artist and venue occurred in 1993, when the iconic Canadian acrobatic show Cirque du Soleil gave its first Las Vegas performance. It was so successful, that the Mirage built a theater to the troupe’s specifications, and signed a 10-year contract. Cirque du Soleil has since staged performances at most of Vegas’s resorts, with several different shows running simultaneously. To accommodate their performances, the MGM Grand built a vast, $165-million theater that features a 40-ton rotating stage.
By the advent of the millennium, annual revenues from gaming in Clark County were measured in the billions of dollars. Despite a trend that saw the opening of casinos nationwide, Las Vegas has effortlessly maintained its hold on its unofficial title, Gambling Capital of the World.
COOL, CLEAR WATER…
Las Vegas uses a massive amount of water daily. Upon first witnessing the spectacular fountains at the Bellagio, the pirate “ocean” at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, and the nearby 320-acre man-made Lake Las Vegas, an out-of-state visitor might easily assume that the region’s water supply is bottomless. And yet, the establishment of a viable water source has been a challenge for Nevada since its territorial days. The state’s farmers and ranchers have long sought to survive in a land where water is scarce, and subject to the whims of nature. It is not simply a rural problem; the phenomenal growth of Las Vegas in the last few decades, coupled with the stunning surge in the state’s population, has made it a pressing urban issue as well. Nevada has a 9-inch average of rainfall per annum, making it the coun- try’s driest state. It would not be farfetched to suggest that Nevada’s very survival is inextricably linked to the search for, and storage and distribution of, water.
Much has been written in previous chapters about Hoover Dam and the vast body of water it created. Lake Mead— the nation’s largest reservoir—currently supplies some 90 percent of the water to southern Nevada, including Las Vegas. In 1963, the federal government followed suit by damming Glen Canyon on the Colorado River, creating Lake Powell. It was designed as a water storage facility for the states of the Upper Basin, with the provision it supply a fixed amount of water annually to the Lower Basin states— including Nevada.
In 1971, the Southern Nevada Water System, developed to treat and deliver Colorado River water to the Las Vegas Valley, became operational. By the end of the ‘80s, however, with people moving into the state by the hundreds of thousands, another solution was sought. A regional approach to water management was implemented in 1991, through the establishment of the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA). Consisting of seven member agencies throughout the state, the SNWA became responsible for managing Nevada’s limited water, as well as negotiating for additional water resources, operating the regional water treatment and delivery system, conducting water-related research, and promoting conservation. By the dawn of the millennium, a severe drought was already making an impact on the state, and in 2001, the federal government placed the Southern Nevada Water System under the Water Authority’s control.
However, the SNWA can only do so much, especially when confronted with a 14-year drought that has become the worst in state-recorded history. The Water Authority’s current goal is to change water-use habits without causing an adverse impact on quality of life. The agency “offers rebates and services that help reduce outdoor water use, and supports a number of public outreach activities to educate the public about conservation.” Under the SNWA’s Water Smart Landscapes rebate program, the state has seen the removal of more than 160-million-square-feet of lawn, and its replacement by xeriscape—a form of landscaping that minimizes or eliminates the need for water.
Meanwhile, the drought has radically reduced the Colorado River’s flow, and brought water levels in lakes Mead and Powell to an alarming all-time low. Rose Davis, spokesperson for the Bureau of Reclamation, stated in a recent article in USA Today that Lake Powell is currently at 52 percent of capacity and if the drought continues to force water levels down, it could well bring about a cut in water deliveries for 2016.
For many of Nevada’s farmers, the situation is already desperate. In a July 30 article titled, “Nevada Farmers Watch the Land Die in Drought,” the Reno Gazette-Journal reported on the dire conditions in the Lovelock area. Said one stricken farmer, “It’s as bad as you can get. It is a grief to be a farmer without water and not be able to plant or harvest….” A Fallon-based crops specialist with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension agrees: “It’s the worst I’ve seen, without a doubt.”
Predictably, stock grazing has suffered as well. According to a statement by the Bureau of Land Management, “conditions have stressed all resources on the public lands, making grazing throughout most of Nevada unsustainable at permitted levels.”
As water levels have plummeted, Nevada’s population has skyrocketed—from fewer than 500,000 in 1970 to a current high of nearly 2.8 million, plus an annual tourist population of some 40 million. Ultimately, necessity will drive Nevadans to seek new methods of procuring and distributing water. The SNWA has proposed constructing a buried pipeline system to carry groundwater from central and eastern Nevada to southern Nevada to enhance the area’s increasingly limited water resources, while taking some of the pressure o the struggling Colorado River.
If approved, the construction will take time. For the immediate present, however, as a journalist for the Las Vegas Sun recently wrote, “Water should be a top priority this election year, and candidates should be pressed to address the issue. Southern Nevada drives the economy, and the economy needs water.”
LOOKING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY
One area in which Nevada is, in fact, trumping Mother Nature—and working toward a major contribution to global wellbeing—is in the field of renewable energy. The state is a natural location for the development of alternative energy solutions. Blessed with an average of more than 250 days of sunshine a year, Nevada “has the greatest solar energy resources in the country, and…abundant wind and geothermal energy to boot” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The first approach to finding an alternative for traditional fuel was adopted in the early 1970s, by the newly formed Nevada State Office of Energy (NSOE). In the face of what was referred to as an “energy crisis” brought on by actions in the Middle East, the NSOE took as a primary task the “development and implementation of a contingency plan for petroleum shortages.” In 1983, the agency reorganized and was placed within the Governor’s Office of Community Services. Restructured again 10 years later, its funding was increased, as were its assigned functions.
In 1997, the state legislature passed Ne- vada’s first renewable portfolio standard, creating specific goals for the state’s use of renewable energy. Four years later, the NSOE became the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy (GOE), with its administrator assigned a cabinet position. The GOE’s avowed mission is to “ensure the wise development of Nevada’s energy resources in harmony with local economic needs and to position Nevada to lead the nation in renewable energy production, energy efficiency, conservation, and the exportation of energy.” Due in large measure to the efforts of the GOE, Nevada currently ranks as one of the leading states in the implementation of sustainable energy. The agency—which has formalized a strong working relationship with the Bureau of Land Management—is responsible for advising the governor on energy policy, overseeing existing energy programs, and coordinating the various local, regional, and federal players to ensure a consistent approach to new developments.
Nevada’s quest for and development of renewable energy has continued to grow in importance. The much-improved current portfolio standard requires that 25 percent of state utilities’ power be generated by renewable sources by 2025, with 6 percent to derive from solar energy alone by 2016. According to a study by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the generation of just 7 percent of the state’s electricity from in-state renewable sources will create more than 2,500 jobs, and generate $310 million in revenue each year.
A number of schools, small businesses, public buildings, and residents are currently generating their own solar energy with the help of rebates provided by Ne- vada’s SolarGenerations program. Meanwhile, money and expertise for developing renewable resources are being heavily invested in geothermal, biomass, and wind energy. The possibilities are staggering. It has been estimated that “using a mere 2 percent of Nevada’s enhanced geothermal resource potential could yield some 146 gigawatts of new electrical capacity— enough to power nearly 15 percent of the entire United States.”
Since 2010, the state has invested some $5.5 billion in clean energy projects, resulting in the generation of more than 1500 megawatts of clean energy. This year, asserting its position as an acknowledged hub in the field, Nevada is hosting four major trade conferences for national renewable energy groups.
NEVADA IN POPULAR CULTURE
It comes as a surprise to many out-of-staters to discover the extent to which Nevada is reflected in popular culture. From literature, to art, dance, cinema, and television, the state is well represented and growing more active all the time.
Since its birth, Nevada has found its way into literature. As detailed in earlier issues of Nevada Magazine, writers such as Mark Twain and Dan DeQuille made a success of lampooning everyday occurrences a gullible Eastern readership. Within the past 40 years, many highly regarded authors have crafted books around Nevada’s history and geography, peopling them with a panoply of unique characters. According to one chronicler, Nevada in the 1970s and ‘80s saw “boom- ing literature in the fields of sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies.”
Fiction has also been well represented by nationally known authors. One of the most popular, Louis L’Amour, worked in Nevada’s mines before turning his at- tention to writing. In 1981, he published “Comstock Lode,” a swashbuckling tale of the early silver strikes. L’Amour always matched his larger-than-life heroes with strong frontier women, and “Comstock Lode’s” leading lady, Grita Tredaway—“a radiantly beautiful actress driven by an unfulfilled need”—is no exception.
Not surprisingly, Las Vegas has always been a popular subject for writers of both fiction and non-fiction, right up to the present moment. Earlier this year, inves- tigative writer Doug J. Swanson came out with his definitive study of an infamous Vegas gambler, innovator, and alleged Mob boss, titled “Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Benny Binion, the Texas Gangster Who Created Vegas Poker.”
The last few decades have also seen an impressive growth in cultural centers and venues, focusing on both the visual and performing arts. Museums, theaters, and studios dot the state, and since 1996, Reno has transformed into Artown each July. The cultural event is recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, and presents nearly 500 events during the month.
Nevada has always served as a location for Hollywood movies, and literally doz- ens of films have been shot here since the 1970s. The landscape provided a classic venue for Westerns during the “cowboy craze” of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Valley of Fire State Park provided the backdrop for 1975’s “Bite the Bullet,” a fictionalized take on an endurance race held at the turn of the century. And the following year Carson City’s historic Krebs-Peter- son House served as a location for “The Shootist.” The poignant story of a famed westerner dying of cancer, it was John Wayne’s last film.
Again, it is Las Vegas that has come in for more than its share of cinematic at- tention, with movie themes ranging from comedy (the “Ocean’s Eleven” franchise, “The Hangover”), to tragedy (“Leaving Las Vegas”), to spectacle (“Showgirls”), to science fiction (“Independence Day”), to crime drama (“Casino,” “The Closer”).
For more than half a century, Las Ve- gas has provided the theme for a number of television series and programs, and the number is growing exponentially. One of the most successful of the current of- ferings is “CSI: Criminal Scene Investiga- tion,” which has inspired a number of spin-offs. And the recent advent of reality television has spawned a trio of offbeat viewer favorites: “Pawn Stars,” “Counting Cars,” and “American Restoration.”
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
One Nevadan who has a closer perspective than most on the state’s strengths and weaknesses is Brian Edward Sandoval. He has served as a state assemblyman, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, state attorney general, United States district court judge, and—since 2010—Nevada’s governor. In a recent interview with Nevada Magazine, Governor Sandoval spoke candidly on a number of issues affecting Nevada, and his plans for the state’s future.
Nevada Magazine: As a student of history, is there a period in Nevada’s past that fascinates you more than others?
Governor Sandoval: [Laughs] That’s like asking me to pick a favorite from among my kids. There really isn’t one specific time that I’d put ahead of another. I’m just proud of where the state is now, and how it’s evolved—and frankly, how it’s responded to some pretty difficult fiscal challenges. As I look back, I see various periods in our history where Nevada had to pivot, and to find new ways to survive. I think about the mining, the ranching, the professional boxing, the atomic test- ing, the evolution and modernization of gaming—particularly in Southern Nevada. I look at the maturation of the military in the state, from the very beginning right up to where we’re on the ground floor for the next big thing in aviation, the devel- opment of the UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones”]. Also the Nevada of today is a national leader in renewable en- ergy. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short time.
NM: From its earliest days as a territory, Nevada survived on what has been termed a “boom-or-bust”—“boom-town-to-ghost-town” economy. Have any aspects of that pattern translated themselves into present-day Nevada?
GS: We’re actually experiencing that right now with regard to the mining industry. Although mining has become a lot more sophisticated than it was back then, there’s been a dramatic drop in the price of gold per ounce. However, one good thing about the state today is that we’ve evolved; we’ve diversified our economy, so the drop in mining production doesn’t bring down our state as much as it had before.
When I became governor, the bottom had just fallen out of the economy. Nevada had become heavily reliant on gaming, and on the tourism that it generated. For 20 years, Nevada was the fastest-growing state in the country, and the tourism industry in Las Vegas really dominated things. You had between 10 and 15 of the biggest hotels in the world right here. There were “super-resorts,” which resulted in a lot of staff and construction jobs.
With construction on the Strip moving at a tremendous pace, 15 percent of all the employment in the state was accounted for by construction jobs, at a time when the national average was 5 percent. So when the recession hit, tourism to Las Vegas dropped dramatically, both nationally and internationally, and Ne- vada felt the impact as hard as, or harder than, any other state. When we lost all those construction jobs, it really hurt us. Unemployment in the state went from 4 percent to more than 14 percent. We led the country in foreclosures, and we led the country in bankruptcies. I came into office when things were at their worst, which is why a large part of my efforts have gone into building a state economy that’s recession-proof and diver- sified, so that we’re not reliant on just one industry. The whole concept of diversifica- tion moves the state forward from a time when, if a major industry failed, there was nothing to fall back on. Today’s gaming industry is a good example of successful diversification. It grew exponentially by evolving the dining experience, the enter- tainment experience, and the shopping experience, to meet the needs, wants, and tastes of the new millennium. As a result, only around 40 percent of the industry’s revenues actually come directly from gaming.
NM: The federal government owns around 86 percent of Nevada’s land. Do you find the government disposed to allowing the use of its land for the state’s purposes?
GS: Nevada has the highest amount of federal land in the country. There is a strong desire among the people of Nevada to have more access to, and more use of, federal lands. If there’s mineral or other natural resource development, there is an auction process for leases, through the BLM [Bureau of Land Management]. And there’s a very sophisticated permitting process by which the ranchers have the ability to lease grazing lands throughout the state. But at the end of the day, I think most if not all Nevadans, including me, would like to see more of the federal land turned over to the state, for us to manage and care for ourselves.
NM: From the time of the Civil War, Nevada has been a major contributor to the nation’s economy, and its very survival, largely through the mining of its ores and minerals. What do you see as Nevada’s most viable contribution to America today?
GS: There are many. One that comes immediately to mind is Hoover Dam, which—at the time of construction—was categorized as one of the wonders of the modern world. It ranked as one of the greatest achievements ever built by man, especially given what it accomplished in generating energy and preserving water.
National security is another major contribution, from the establishment of the first test site, and the testing that subse- quently went on there. We also have three major bases—Nellis Air Force Base, Naval Air Station Fallon, which is where Top Gun is located, and Creech Air Force Base, where they control the drones in the war against terror. Mining’s contribution—that goes without saying. In terms of tourism, Las Vegas has always led the way in showing the newest and greatest products when it comes to attracting visitors. It’s what makes it one of the most-visited cities on the planet.
Renewable energy is another major development area with national ramifi- cations. Nevada, I believe, is third in the country for most installed solar fields, and second for most geothermal installations. And there’s a new technology in Tonopah with regard to solar generation that is un- like any place else in the world. Looking ahead, within the next five to 10 years, you’ll see Nevada leading in two other evolving areas. For one, Nevada was one of six states designated as a development and training site for UAVs. And finally, there’s data storage. Most people are unaware that the largest data storage facil- ity in the world is in Las Vegas. It’s called Switch Supernap. Free from the threat of flood, tornado, hurricane, and earthquake, Las Vegas is the perfect environment for the storage of data, which is fast becom- ing a vital component of the future. That’s just a smattering of things, both histori- cally and currently, that reflect some of Nevada’s contributions to the nation.
NM: When many Americans think of Nevada, Las Vegas and Reno are the names that most often come to mind. What other cities, towns, or natural sites could you point to as deserving of special mention?
GS: [Laughs] That would be impossible! I travel extensively through Nevada, and I have so many favorite places and people to visit throughout the state. But I’ll try to limit my comments, and mention just some of them. One special place that people love to visit in northern Nevada is Virginia City. It’s a historical town—the scene of the fabulous Comstock Lode— and most of it is preserved. You can have an authentic western experience there.
Another one of my favorite places is Pyramid Lake. They’ve just discovered 11,000-year-old petroglyphs, which are as old as anything found in North America. It’s also a great place to visit for people to learn about the state’s Native Americans and their history. The famous scout and soldier John C. Frémont visited Pyramid Lake when he passed through Nevada in the early 1800s. It’s just a special place, and when you visit, you’ll see it just as Frémont saw it, and the Native Americans before him.
Elko is always a great stop, especially during the annual Cowboy Poetry Gather- ing. I guess you could call it a western religious experience! Elko also has the Star, which I consider to be the best Basque restaurant in Nevada. Boulder City is an- other place I love to visit, given its history with Hoover Dam. It is, I believe, the only community in Nevada that doesn’t have gaming. It does, however, have a train museum, which is one of the best you’ll ever see.
Hawthorne is a small community in central Nevada that started out as a mili- tary ammunition depot, but if you’ve ever been there on Armed Forces Day, they host a parade, and honor the men and women of the armed services in a way that I’ve never seen anywhere else. In nearby Tonopah there’s the Mizpah Hotel, which was once the tallest building in Nevada.
There’s a lot of history in that hotel, and it’s been completely restored to the way it looked when it opened back in 1905. The state has great state parks as well. There’s the Valley of Fire, which has its own share of amazing petroglyphs. The Great Basin National Park near Ely is also a very special place. The Ichthyosaur is the official state fossil, and a state park in central Nevada has a completely preserved Ichthyosaur skeleton. It’s right next to a ghost town named Berlin, where a number of the original buildings are still standing. But there are so many other places worth visiting—Ely, Fallon…[laughing] and sure as anything, someone from Wells, or Winnemucca, or Battle Mountain, is going to say, “Why didn’t you mention us?”
Red Rock Canyon is also a “can’t-miss” scenic experience. The hiking and scenery are breathtaking. And Lake Tahoe, which is one of the prettiest places on earth.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the tremendous outdoor activities Nevada of- fers, in the way of hiking, biking, camping, hunting, and fishing. There are pristine rivers and lakes, amazing mountain ranges, truly stunning scenery. Visitors are coming to Nevada in increasing num- bers—especially the millenials—to take advantage of the state’s natural beauty. You can be in the middle of Las Vegas, with all the lights, sights and sounds of a world-class gaming and entertainment hub, and within 20 minutes, be standing where you can enjoy as much solitude as you could ever ask for.
NM: In what ways do you see Nevada keeping in touch with, and preserving, its frontier past?
GS: We automatically preserve our past because it never really left us; it’s still very much a part of our way of life. There are fourth- and fifth-generation families that are out there ranching or farming the land. I think there are 17 or 18 Native Ameri- can tribes in the state whose ancestors have been here thousands of years. So you really don’t have to go far to share an authentic Western experience, with un- broken ties to the past. That’s part of what makes Nevada really special.
NM: I would imagine the old families still maintain a strong sense of frontier independence.
GS: They absolutely do. Just recently, a four- or five-generation family completed what they called a “grass march.” They travelled by horse and wagon from Battle Mountain to Carson City, which is about a 180- or 200-mile trek. They didn’t make the grueling trip for recreation, but to emphasize some concerns they had about how they were being treated by the BLM. If you’d seen the little two and three year olds, and then if you saw the patriarch and matriarch of the family, you would have been really impressed. They talked about how they’d been working that land since the 1860s. It really made me proud. These folks, and so many like them, are out there raising their cattle and their crops just as their forebears did more than a century and a half ago.
All of this is not to say we don’t have our special events to commemorate Ne- vada’s history. One of my favorites is the Stewart Father’s Day Powwow, which is held at the historic Stewart Indian School, just outside of Carson City. It’s one of only two preserved Native American boarding schools still standing in the country, as far as I know, and I’m firmly determined to help in its preservation. I took my dad to the Powwow two years ago, and I try to go every year, for the tribal dancing and the Native American crafts and food. During its operation, students were enrolled from tribes all over the southwestern United States. I don’t believe this is an especially proud part of history for the U.S., because at the time, young men and women were removed from their reservations and brought to the Stewart Indian School. It was in operation for 90 years, from 1890 right up until 1980, and is open for tours, both online and in person.
NM: What do you see as Nevada’s future path, both immediate and long-range? How do you visualize your role in making it happen?
GS: I think Nevada’s future is bright. One essential vision I have for Nevada’s future is to have an educated and healthy citizenry. We haven’t ranked well in education and health, and I have a lot of programs that I have pushed for in the last session of the state legislature, and will continue to push for in the upcoming legislative session, in terms of strengthening our young people’s K-through-12 education. Nevada’s demographic makeup has changed radically over the past few years. People are coming here in increas- ing numbers for the job opportunities, and as a result, the state population is much different than it was 50, or even 20, years ago. For example, the Clark County School District is one of the five largest in the country, and only around 38 percent of the school population is Caucasian. There has been a tremendous growth in the Hispanic population in the state, and there are more than 150 languages now being spoken in the Clark County School District alone. We must work to ensure that we can meet the needs of this newly diverse population in our schools.
Also, I plan to continue the growth of a vibrant and diverse economy, safe and livable communities, and effi cient government. We are now the second-fastest growing state in the country when it comes to job growth. As chairman of our Economic Development Board, I’ve been working really hard to attract manufacturing and technology-based companies to Nevada. Both northern and southern Nevada are great logistical hubs for distribution of goods throughout the western United States. A lot of these bigger companies are starting to locate here to distribute their goods.
And we are growing. Traditionally, Nevada has been called the Silver State; some people are now referring to us as the “Start-up State” because we’ve really be- gun to engage in innovations in technology. And with the new aviation programs, we see ourselves as a growing hub for the manufacture and testing of UAVs. And we’re doing nothing but growing in the area of renewable energy as well.
Many companies are recognizing that this is not only a great place to do business, but also a great place to raise a family and enjoy a high quality of life. I’m very pleased but know that we must continue moving Nevada forward.
NM: At one point, you stated that you have the best job in the world. Do you still feel that way, now that you’ve sat in the governor’s chair for four years?
GS: Absolutely. It is such a blessing to be able to serve as the governor of this state at this time. I just held a cabinet meeting, and I’m really excited about my cabinet members’ creativity, and their efforts to make sure the state is the best that it can be. It’s a team effort. The people of Nevada are feeling better than they did, but nobody’s satisfied with where we are. We know we have a ways to go, and we’re going to continue to strengthen our K-through-12, strengthen our higher education system, and ensure that every child who grows up here has opportunity.
Read the Entire 8-Part Series
Part I: The Unknown Territory
Part II: From Strikes to Statehood
Part III: Twain, Trains, & The Pony Express
Part IV: Into the New Century
Part V: War, Whiskey, and Wild Times!
Part VI: Gambling, Gold and Government Projects
Part VII: To War and Beyond
Part VIII: Looking Forward, Looking Back