Moving Nevada Forward

in support of higher education

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Diversify Nevada

What will the future competitive advantage be for Nevada?

Red Rock Sunset, Las Vegas, NV

Red Rock Sunset, Las Vegas, NV (Photo credit: Grufnik)

One thing is clear, it is time for Nevada to diversify as moves away from the reliance on the gaming industry.  I applaud the Governor for establishing the Governor’s Office of Economic Development on his new website where it is good to see Governor Sandoval recognize the value of partnership between the State of Nevada and the Nevada System of Higher Education.  Nevada is an excellent place to do business and partnership with education is needed to help move Nevada forward.

Nevada A Top 10 Entrepreneurial State

On June 20, 2013, Nevada was listed in the Top 10 Most Entrepreneurial States The 2012 start-up rate is 390 per 100,000 adults.  Entrepreneurs in everything from retail to tech, aerospace, energy and defense are betting on Nevada as a place to launch.  Some are inspired by the presence of big-name companies like Apple, Microsoft, Zappos and Boeing, said Steve Hill, executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development.  For others, it’s the business-friendly environment.  There’s no personal income, business income or franchise tax, the state has streamlined its business licensing and permits process, and commercial real estate is relatively affordable, said Hill.  Nevada also recently set up a $10 million Catalyst Fund in 2011 to help start-ups get capital for relocation and expansion.

Education A Top Priority

Governor Sandoval was elected as Chair of the Education Commission of the States, and in a press release from the commission he stated,  “Improving and reforming education has been one of my highest priorities as Governor of Nevada and I look forward to working with education leaders across our nation to better serve our country’s children.”

Diversify Nevada website does an excellent job highlighting what Nevada has to offer.  Personally, I enjoy over 300 days of sunshine each year, but I am thrilled to see education listed as a highlight by the Governor’s office.

  • Affordable housing choices in high-energy city, peaceful suburban, and quaint rural settings.
  • Excellent educational options for students in K-12, community colleges and universities.
  • World-class entertainment and cultural events.
  • Unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities.

Nevada Workforce describes the Nevada workforce, once again highlighting the partnership between education and business.

The Las Vegas Strip can be seen in the distanc...

The Las Vegas Strip can be seen in the distance from various points on the UNLV campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nevada: an able workforce, ready to work. Nevada’s labor market provides high value to businesses, including high-tech industries and international trade. Our talent pool contains a large percentage of workers with advanced degrees.  Employers’ demands for skilled labor in Nevada is answered by many customized training programs designed for the needs of the state’s leading industries, such as the Train Employees Now program, which provides matching grants for qualified employers to acquire skilled labor in less time and at lower costs; and the Silver State Works employee hiring program, which provides incentives of up to $2,000 for each state-qualified employee hired.  Our workforce is also diverse, both culturally and linguistically. Many Nevada residents speak more than one language, with particularly strong representation of Spanish and Chinese speaking residents.

Nevada’s universities and colleges, technical institutions, and community colleges provide a continuous supply of workers with higher education credentials. Rich programs at the University of Nevada campuses in Reno and Las Vegas emphasize Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculums – a growing area of emphasis in the state’s K-12 schools as well.   Working with both the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of Nevada, Reno, the unmanned aerial vehicle industry wants to start training people for jobs they expect will exist in five years.  Additionally, the entire Nevada System of Higher Education is committed to developing specific employee training programs for individual industries and companies. These alliances have even created training for a “partner” company on the specific job tasks needed for a specialized process.

What will the future competitive advantage for Nevada be?  Perhaps it is too early to tell, but one can bet education and human resources will part of the solution.   I invite you to share your opinion on the future of Nevada and on moving Nevada forward.

Las Vegas Skyline

Las Vegas Skyline (Photo credit: Ben Adamson)


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Innovate Our Way Out


Innovation (Photo credit: Seth1492)

Nevada will need to innovate our way out by creating a culture of innovation which requires partners in education, industry and our community.

What is your definition of innovation?

The SHRM Board of Directors Chair Bette Francis, told HR professionals at SHRM 2013 that supporting innovation is their most pressing organizational goal.  It is critical to the success of every organization.  “We need to innovate our way out of the problems we face,” she said.  She further explained HR professionals play a critical role in creating real organizational change by helping to build a culture that actively supports innovation.  I agree that HR professionals need to roll up their sleeves and become part of the solution in moving organizations forward.

She cited innovation expert Michael Stanleigh, CEO of Business Improvement Architects who found the most innovative organizations:

1. Keep their organizational structures flat

2. Dare their employees to dream

3. Expect employees to regularly present new ideas to senior management–no matter how off-the-wall they may seem.

She said it is the company culture that determines success of innovation.  If it is not supported by management or is frowned upon by peers the flow of ideas will shut down.  She described a culture of innovation as one to encourage collaboration, it gives people the confidence to make suggestions, and sees mistakes as steps on the road to success.

This is where HR has a vital role to play in higher education and in Nevada HR can serve as a catalyst for change with a shortage of skilled workers, and close the global skills gap.  No doubt a cultural change in Nevada will be a challenge as the culture of the old wild west is fiercely independent.  But as Francis emphasized, “It is up to us“, to shape the future of business, the workplace and millions of workers around the world.

Please share your experiences with creating a culture of innovation.

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Welcome to the Century of Women

NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw.

NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am on my way to the 2013 SHRM national conference.  Last summer Tom Brokaw presented at the closing session of the SHRM conference. He stunned the audience with his controversial statement about it being the Century of Women. He wrote for a blog called, Lean In based on a book written by Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg.  She encourages women not to leave before you leave. Don’t lean back, rather lean in. She writes a truly equal world would be where women ran half of our country and men ran half of our homes. Currently there are only 21 women CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies.

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 28JAN11 - Sheryl Sandberg, ...

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 28JAN11 – Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook, USA; Young Global Leader are captured during the session ‘Handling Hyper-connectivity’ at the Annual Meeting 2011 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 28, 2011. Copyright by World Economic Forum by Jolanda Flubacher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brokaw writes, “as the challenges of the 21st century demand more from each of us shouldn’t we be thinking as much about how to free up more women for the common good as we do about immigration, entitlement reform, and debt reduction?” He appeared on the NBC today show as a father of three daughters, adding his voice to the debate about women in the workplace and the home, saying women have never made “as many gains in the history of mankind” as they are making now, but “we have a long way to go around the world.”

When I moved to Nevada ten years ago, I had a female boss warn me that Nevada is still a “good ol’ boy State”. While I think there might be some truth to this statement, I believe Nevada has made great strides just like the rest of the world. It is fair to say Nevada has exceeded my expectation in almost every way.

However I would say I agree with Tom, we have a long way to go, and Nevadans should listen closely and be thinking about how to free up women for the common good to help move Nevada forward.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?