“I understand the issues that are important to Mesquite businesses. We need to get economic development and job growth going,” Lt Governor Mark Hutchison said after spending Tuesday with local officials and business people in Mesquite.
“In general, most of the challenges we face can be solved with two things, a good job and a strong family. However, I realize that’s not the case for everybody. Government has a role to play in terms of those who don’t have those things,” he said.
“I think we can do a better job helping small rural communities with focusing on economic development. I think the rural communities in Southern Nevada are losing out on opportunities to receive grants from the Nevada Commission on Tourism to help with rural tourism,” Hutchison said, adding that he is the Chairman of the Commission.
He explained as part of his job he is visiting rural areas and making sure they understand the program and that they can benefit from the monies that are available.
“Mesquite is well-positioned for logistics and warehousing type businesses,” Hutchison said as he discussed ways to diversify the local economy and not rely strictly on tourism. “One of the challenges Mesquite has had is the lack of natural gas.”
He explained that legislation was recently passed to make it easier to extend natural gas to rural areas. “That is number one on the list for economic development and diversification. I was told this morning that 38 businesses declined to come here because of the lack of natural gas.”
He also addressed the workforce development issue and encouraged the city to partner more with the College of Southern Nevada and the Nevada Workforce Development organization.
He said he’s a strong supporter of the Educational Savings Accounts that allow parents to use tax dollars to enroll their children in private or alternative schools run by religious organizations. The plan is currently tied up in the courts. He stated the plans have strong support and interest by minority families because they are concerned about the poor quality of education their children now get in public schools.
“I think it’s great any time parents have an opportunity to decide what schools are right for their children,” he said.
Hutchison explained that he’s been extensively involved in the issue of transferring federal lands to local and state control. “I think all federal laws should be followed,” he said about pending legislation to make the Gold Butte area a National Conservation Area. “I’m generally in favor of protecting archaeological and historical areas. What I’m not in favor of is protecting BLM land that doesn’t have those types of uses or large swaths of land that simply act as a buffer zone.”
He added the federal government is responsible for protecting land under the BLM control like Gold Butte and should do so.