Number 4: Nevada spends $12 million to ‘create’ five jobs

Victor Joecks

In the spirit of the 12 Days of Christmas, I’m going to be listing my 12 favorite Write on Nevada posts from 2011. We’ll be counting down the top five this week. We love to get your feedback, so please leave your thoughts in the comments. Here’s number 4.


Thoughts on this post: This is what happens when government tries to pick the winners and losers in the economy. Instead of economic meddling, government should stick with its core functions like upholding the rule of law, public safety and education.

Nevada spends $12 million to ‘create’ five jobs

If you ever need the perfect example of why government shouldn’t be involved in economic development, consider this amazing story from Sunday’s Las Vegas Sun.

Some statistics about Copper Mountain Solar, a 775,000-panel array outside Boulder City that went online last year as the largest photovoltaic solar plant in the United States, might seem surprising.

And not in a good way. …

Permanent jobs created: 5. That’s not a typo. State incentives developer Sempra Generation received: $12 million. That’s not a typo, either.

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the public money was well spent. “Every job is a great job,” Sandoval said when asked if the benefits of the project justify the incentives. “It’s the essence of what we are trying to accomplish here … in terms of diversifying the economy and taking advantage of our renewable energy resources.”

Sempra Generation also received $42 million from the federal government.

This is the problem with government-directed economic-development efforts. Politicians get positive media coverage from “creating jobs” and are long gone by the time reality surfaces and the jobs are few and far between, but taxpayers are left subsidizing politically connected business owners.

Such giveaways also undermine the strong entrepreneurial spirit that Nevadans are showing. In 2010, Nevada and Georgia had the highest entrepreneurial activity rates in the country.

Individuals don’t need special tax breaks to create businesses and jobs. They need the freedom that comes with an equal and low tax and regulatory burden. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs in Nevada face numerous tax and regulatory barriers.

If politicians want to create jobs and not photo-ops, they should work to lower taxes for all and reduce the red tape businessmen and women face. It’s not as glamorous, but being a public servant, compared to politician, rarely is. It is, however, a whole lot more effective in the long term.