(Michael Chamberlain/Nevada Business Coalition) – They say the pen is mightier than the sword. A new business in town is finding that paperwork and bureaucracy may defeat firearms as well. The Clark County bureaucratic quagmire is doing its best to frustrate one of the area’s new businesses.
A few months ago Wild West Guns, a custom firearms manufacturer from Alaska, decided to open a new facility in Las Vegas near Valley View and Hacienda. Jim West said the plant should open by October 1 and employ 20-25 people.
West said they chose Las Vegas over several other potential locations. They spoke with economic development people all over the country and considered sites in Houston, Salt Lake City, Wyoming and South Dakota.
He was attracted to Las Vegas because his family already had a home in the area. He was among a group that purchased what he called their “defrost house,” a place to get away to when they needed.
In addition, he already traveled to Las Vegas at least once or twice a year for conventions. The fact that Las Vegas is a prime convention location was an added plus. Many of their customers already traveled to the area for conventions and millions of people journey here from all over the world, creating tremendous potential for new customers.
Due to the nature of the business, West said, “We need to connect with people. They need to see our products.”
But, despite the need for new businesses in the area and the desire expressed by public officials to promote economic and job growth, it has hardly been smooth sailing. The local bureaucracy has been anything but welcoming.
The County building officials are “driving us crazy,” said West. “They want a permit for everything, a fee for everything.”
West expressed a frustration shared by many business owners, especially those new to the area, with the volume of permits and fees. “We want things to be right but they go way overboard here,” he stated.
The building department has not even been the biggest impediment to Wild West Guns.
The Clark County business license department had requirements that amazed West. They gave him a set of documents to fill out that was “a foot high” and contained nineteen pages that had to be notarized.
“It literally took my wife and I three weeks to finish the paperwork for the Clark County business license,” West said. “And my wife is a CPA.”
If he had to do it all over again knowing what he knows now, West claimed he probably would not have selected Las Vegas because of the bureaucratic roadblocks thrown in the path of his business. He said it’s almost as if they are trying to drive businesses away.
West hasn’t encountered the problem that high-tax advocates cite as a reason for companies not moving to Nevada – the lack of a trained workforce due to insufficient funding for education. There’s a “good inventory of people with the skills for most of what we need,” he said.
Finding trained gunsmiths has been somewhat challenging but that’s not unusual or unexpected for an occupation requiring such highly-specialized skills. We suspect not many of the high-tax proponents would advocate for the creation of a gunsmithing program within the state’s higher education system anyway.
As the Nevada economy continues to struggle and the state clamors for the jobs and economic development businesses like Wild West Guns can bring, local bureaucrats seemingly go out of their way to stifle them. This is no way to grow an economy and goes a long way toward explaining why the state is having such a difficult time recovering. You can’t promote economic growth and jobs by strangling the businesses that provide them.
(Michael Chamberlain is Executive Director of Nevada Business Coalition.)