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SPREAD THE WORD: Southern Nevada is the world’s leader in water sustainability

As Southern Nevada continues to grow, we need to leverage our resources for the greatest return on investment.

Tina Quigley (Courtesy of LVGEA)

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This article is written by Tina Quigley, CEO of Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA).

Do our region a favor. Repeat these three points over and over in your head until they are firmly imbedded there. Then repeat them to all your friends, coworkers, and social media groups:

  • We are the WORLD’S leader in water sustainability.
  • We are the ONLY region in the world that can recapture indoor water and return 99% back to the system (even water engineers in Singapore are amazed by that and are seeking SNWA’s mentoring).
  • We have the MOST secure water plan of all communities that rely on the Colorado river.

There are many more superlatives we could add to that list, but these are the points we should all be evangelizing. When the world sees the powerful pictures of Lake Mead’s receding shoreline and boats poking up out of the newly dry ground, it is easy to assume our city will dry up as well. It is easy to assume that Las Vegas, the city of excess, is reckless with their resources. And unfortunately for economic development, it is easy to assume our region is too risky for long term business investment.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

However, to continue to grow, we need to leverage our resources for the greatest return on investment. As the region’s economic development authority, it is LVGEA’s responsibility to ensure the types of businesses we incentivize to locate to our community are “good fit” companies. A good fit company by our definition is one that (1) pays livable wages and benefits, (2) invests at least $1 million in capital infrastructure, and (3) has a low consumptive use of water (water that cannot be recaptured).

But what exactly is the metric of “low” consumptive use? How do we objectively evaluate the myriad of businesses with their differing operating models, technologies, systems, footprints, and consumptive vs non-consumptive water use? Does a company that pays minimum wage with few employees deserve the right to consume as much water as a company that pays high wages and helps diversify our economic base?

Those discussions are currently underway. The team at Southern Nevada Water Authority have created a model that is currently being vetted by Nevada’s Governor’s Office of Economic Development, LVGEA, and local economists to ensure an objective and fair metric rating system. It is a simple process that will evaluate water consumption and economic impact (jobs, wages, tax revenues, social impact, etc).

Once again, in implementing this system we will be the FIRST community in the world to tie economic development incentives to an ROI for natural resources.

Bam! … or in this case: Splash! #MicDrop

About the Author:

Tina Quigley is the President & CEO of LVGEA, a regional development authority dedicated to growing the economy in Southern Nevada through connectivity, community development, and strong business recruitment, retention and outreach. Prior to the LVGEA, Quigley served as CEO for the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. Quigley began her career as a planner at Harry Reid International Airport where, over 15 years, she grew to oversee the major capital projects program. She is a licensed pilot and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Airport Planning & Development from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is an alumnus of Harvard Business School’s Program for Leadership Development.