One of the most critical components of attracting new companies and businesses to Mesquite is the availability of an adequate workforce.

According to Foote Consulting Group, Mesquite is behind the power curve compared to its two closest competitor cities, St. George, Utah, and North Las Vegas. For those working in Mesquite and the businesses hiring them, that’s no surprise.

Through a series of interviews conducted with local companies including Mesquite Gaming, Eureka Casinos, and Do It Best distribution warehouse, FCG put together a composite image of the local workforce as it stands now.

“The objective of these interviews was to determine current salary/wages for select position; wage thresholds; hiring trends; labor availability and quality; and training needs,” says FCG’s labor analysis commissioned by Mesquite Regional Business, Inc.

The report is intended to aid companies seeking to build new Distribution Centers in Mesquite that would potentially employ up to 200 workers.

The median level wage of a distribution center supervisor in Mesquite was the highest at $46,545 compared to St. George ($40,861) and NLV ($46,443). For a typical material handler Mesquite also topped the other two cities at $29,938 in yearly pay. Laborers in a Mesquite distribution center would earn $26, 383 a year while those in St. George would earn $22,961 and in North Las Vegas it would be $26,293.

“Higher wages in Mesquite could make a negative difference in the bottom line of a new DC project, but even higher wages may be needed to offset poor availability,” the report concluded.

When it comes to measuring labor availability, Mesquite is decidedly below average at 4.4 on a 1-to-10 scale compared to the other two cities who both average around a 7 on the scale.

Companies reported to FCG that finding unskilled labor was a problem in Mesquite while others suggested using retirees in the local area on a part-time basis.

FCG’s conclusion in this category suggested that “Poorer availability will hurt prospect activity in Mesquite; they may have to pay more in a market that has the highest wages already or come up with other alternatives. A prospect must offer an unskilled warehouse worker between $26,500 and $32,000 per year in order to recruit successfully and stay competitive.”

Mesquite’s labor quality was rated “good” at 7.46 overall but still fell behind St. George at 8.41 and North Las Vegas at 8.63.

One local employer said the level of employees’ literacy, reading and writing is good in Mesquite and better than Vegas. Another reported that productivity in the Mesquite company was 25 percent better than Vegas. “Reliability and work ethic is high,” in local workers said another company.

“Labor quality is good in Mesquite, once you find the workers and we see no issues that would discourage any prospect. Basic skills improvements are worth exploring,” FCG concluded.

Mesquite’s cost of living was the highest of the three cities according to the report. North Las Vegas was the lowest at $94,400, St. George came in at $96,900 and Mesquite topped out at $101,400. Health services, transportation, consumables, housing, utilities, and property taxes comprised the bulk of the costs.

While Mesquite proved to have a higher quality of life at 7.99 than North Las Vegas’s 7.53, St. George held the top spot with a rating of 8.46. Factors included in the numbers were schools, medical services, home affordability, recreation, and cultural facilities.

Local businesses were polled about the quality of services they receive from utilities like water and electricity, police and fire, city permitting, and highways and roads. Mesquite scored 7.56 on the survey while North Las Vegas was rated at 8.53 and St. George topped out at 9.

FCG’s conclusion was that “quality of life and quality of service issues will present no problems to a distribution company looking at Mesquite.”

The labor analysis finished with a list of recommendations “designed to help the MRBI and its partners to improve economic development and workforce goals for the future.”

First on the list was developing a workforce/education/business roundtable of local business and community leaders to address the issues in the report. It also recommended working with the Nevada Career Center in Las Vegas to find more unskilled laborers by using on-the-job training programs, conducting job fairs and exploring a commuter service between Mesquite and the Las Vegas area.

The report also recommended local employers team with the College of Southern Nevada to help train unskilled warehouse workers. It also suggested helping area workers looking to change jobs or re-enter the work place get more training and retraining.

George Gault, interim CEO of MRBI told the Mesquite Local News that his ultimate goal of commissioning the report was the have a third party adequately and independently measure the area’s workforce and identify its weaknesses. “Only then can we structure our training programs to build a labor force that will meet the needs and demands of current and potential businesses,” Gault said.