“The language in the legislative bill that was passed by the Senate and Assembly is broad-natured on purpose,” Assemblyman Chris Edwards (AD-19) told the Mesquite Local News shortly after the bill paving the way for Faraday Futures auto manufacturer was passed in special session Dec. 19. “The bill provides money for both economic development and workforce development in rural and regional areas that can be a tremendous help to the Mesquite and Moapa Valley areas.”
According to public transcripts of the assembly hearing on the Faraday legislation, Edwards asked Dale Erquiaga, chief of strategy for Gov. Brian Sandoval, if money allocated for economic development in the bill included rural areas. “If they come up with a good plan and good applications (do they) have just as equal a shot as anybody else?” Edwards said.
“I agree with you,” Erquiaga said. “I am a farm boy from Fallon so I certainly understand the needs (of rural areas). That’s why I stated at the beginning that this is designed to be a state-wide program. For the record, yes. This will be available to all parts of our state.”
Indeed, the Legislative Counsel’s Digest in the bill says that, “in implementing the State Plan for Economic Development that the industrial and economic development of all geographic areas of this state be supported through the implementation of programs of workforce development that prioritize the recruitment, assessment and training of a highly skilled and diverse workforce and creating equal opportunities is critical to ensuring equity, social and economic mobility and sustainability.”
The legislation provides up to $100,000 in funds for the “Train Employees Now” program that can be approved by the Executive Director of Economic Development. Anything over that must be approved by the Board of Economic Development.
The bill also creates a “Workforce Innovations for a New Nevada” that will provide “customized workforce development services to one or more businesses that provide high-skill and high-wage jobs to Nevada residents.” The bill does not restrict the program strictly to the Faraday Future operation or businesses directly tied to the multi-billion dollar project. It provides funds in excess of $100,000 to successful applicants.
“If this proves to be as successful as I think it will be, we can go into the next legislative session and try to get more funding for these programs,” Edwards said. “These programs will provide direct training for relevant jobs that our high schools are not providing our children now.”
Edwards asked College of Southern Nevada officials during the hearings if the diversification of the workforce development funds would be aided by including places like Mesquite and Moapa since CSN already has satellite offices and infrastructure in those locations.
“We have a philosophy at CSN that wherever 15 people are gathered together, we will take a class,” CSN President Michael Richards said. “We’ll do that in Mesquite where CSN has a center and Moapa where we have a center. Having 56 workforce training sites gives us an opportunity to penetrate the valley with the kinds of training people are seeking.”
Dan Gouker, senior associate vice president, Apprenticeship Studies Division at CSN, said the school has several programs already in place in Mesquite notably a nursing program. “But the short answer is yes, we will take care of that,” he said.
Said Edwards, “I think we can leverage resources at CSN and Nevada State College to bring new programs to Mesquite and Moapa that will help increase workforce development efforts already underway for new and existing businesses in those areas.”
The Nevada State Legislature was called into special session last week by Sandoval to approve legislation granting tax credits and tax abatements to Faraday Futures who plans to build a $1 billion electric car manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas at the Apex Industrial Park about 60 miles south of Mesquite on I-15.