“We told the City Council at the beginning that it would take three years to start showing results and now here we are with some great successes,” said George Gault, CEO of Mesquite Regional Business Inc. (MRBI).
While the concept of a public/private partnership in economic development was approved by the Mesquite City Council in the summer of 2012, MRBI began formal operations in February 2013 when former CEO Gaye Stockman came on board.
“The first year we built the infrastructure, the second year we started marketing ourselves and letting people know about us. The third year is when we planned on really hitting the bricks and bringing new businesses in,” Gault said.
And indeed they’ve had success. Gault estimates that 800 to 1,000 jobs will be available in the local area in the next year or so.
MRBI was instrumental in bringing Star Nursery to Mesquite along with Universal Transport, Inc. While those businesses have small employee numbers, other enterprises MRBI has worked with will have much larger numbers of workers.
“I’ll give MRBI about 60 percent credit with bringing Deep Roots Medical marijuana to Mesquite,” City Councilman George Rapson said earlier. Gault says the company currently employs about 55 people. The marijuana cultivation, production and dispensary operations are expanding with the business taking out a building permit in January for $225,000 worth of work. The dispensary is scheduled to open around May 1. The company is using local contractors for the expansion.
MRBI worked extensively with 333 Eagles Landing to purchase 105 acres at the new I-15 Exit 118 interchange from the city in December. A planned travel center, restaurant, and other operations will employ a minimum of 40 workers at the outset.
Perhaps the biggest success Gault can point to for MRBI will be formally announced at the Jan. 24 City Council meeting. Allied Recreation Group recently purchased 14 acres in the Mesquite Technology and Commerce Center and intends to build a 40,000 square foot building as a recreational vehicle repair and warranty center. “This company manufactures the four biggest-name motor coaches in the nation. They want a repair center to accommodate RVs that’s near an interstate,” Gault said.
The company plans to hire 40 people starting out and expanding to 75 people in the future. The building will be expandable to 80,000 square feet Gault said. Diesel mechanics, electricians, and carpenters will be the primary workforce with wages around the $20 an hour mark. Allied Recreational has met with a couple local contractors to construct the facility.
“They had two primary concerns about locating their company in Mesquite. One was easy access to an interstate. We met that mark with the new Exit 118,” Gault said. “They were also concerned about workforce training. MRBI coordinated with the College of Southern Nevada who will be working with them to develop the necessary training that they will need in their employees. As soon as we satisfied their concerns on those two issues, they signed the paperwork.”
Gault says he’s actively working with another company that will fill a recently vacated business building and employ 10 to 15 people. “It will be our first run for state incentives with this company,” he said.
And then there’s three more companies who aren’t ready to announce their plans but “it looks really good for the Moapa Valley,” Gault said. “Remember, we have the word ‘regional’ in our name and our mission has always included the Moapa Valley area.”
The three companies combined plan to build four 1 million square foot buildings with 150 employees per building. “They plan to start workers at $12 to $15 an hour. With bonuses, some of those workers could make around $20 an hour on average.”
But all these new businesses bring a new set of problems according to Gault. “When you start having success with bringing businesses in, you start wondering where the people will come from and where they will live. You also start wondering how you’re going to train people to fill the new jobs.”
Gault explained that Mesquite lost out on two major data centers that were looking for new locations. “They really liked the community and appreciated that we had all the infrastructure they were looking for. But we didn’t have enough workforce in the area to meet their needs.”
After that, and with current businesses starting to hit a crunch in employee availability, Gault said “it was a wake-up call for us. We realized we had to get involved in both workforce development and workforce housing.”
MRBI commissioned a study that helped guide their efforts in the right direction. Gault and others created a new non-profit organization, Mesquite Works, to address training issues. Officials with the organization have met with Nevada State College and the College of Southern Nevada to begin developing programs and securing grant funding among other tasks. Through Gault’s efforts, $150,000 to $200,000 in workforce training dollars that’s been left on the table for years because the city didn’t ask for it should be on its way in the near future.
Gault is working with local businesses to define housing issues and ways to address them. “We have a couple initiatives we’re working on but we’re not ready to announce them yet,” he said.
“We think the pieces are starting to come together after three years of really hard work. We’re getting new businesses in the door, we set up Mesquite Works for the training, and we’re figuring out the housing issues,” Gault said. “We’re also securing outside funding for our marketing efforts from businesses already here and others who are coming in.”