(Michael Chamberlain/Nevada Business Coalition) – Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Those are the first three words out of every politician’s mouth these days. Yet there are rare occasions when they get the opportunity to actually promote the creation of jobs, jobs, jobs.
The Clark County Commission has the chance to do just that. And it’s not some ill-advised government boondoggle that will cost the taxpayers millions while promoting employment for little more than a few bureaucrats. No, we’re talking about real-life private sector activity here.
And all they need to do is just let the project move forward. Just allow it to proceed through the first phase, the concept plan, of a long approval process.
Gypsum Resources is planning Blue Diamond Hill a 2,400-acre, 7,200-home mixed-use community on an old gypsum mine near Blue Diamond.
The company estimates the project would generate $2 billion worth of spending on infrastructure and construction during its life. According to a source within the company an analysis by an independent firm put the figure even higher. Instead of grousing about the lack of jobs and opportunity, the County has the chance to allow Gypsum Resources to create some of both.
But we can hear the naysayers now.
Why do we need any more construction? Don’t we have a glut of homes and buildings everywhere in Las Vegas already?
There is a tremendous amount of work to be done before homebuilding can even start, many months of work to do before the first rock gets moved, in fact. There is design and planning and engineering and miles and miles of approvals. Not to mention miles and miles of roads. In a best-case scenario it will take more than two years before the project will even be ready to begin construction on the first home.
The approval process alone consists of five steps – at each of which it could be shut down for good.
Even after it does begin it is scheduled to last for two decades, continuing through the peaks and valleys of future business cycles. For this project to be shelved because we happen to be in the trough of a cycle now would be extremely short-sighted.
If someone has the means and the fortitude to start working on a project like this what right does the government have to say they shouldn’t be allowed to take the risk? The willingness to take such risks are what made America great.
Shouldn’t we keep this area pristine? Why allow any development at all?
It’s not as though they’re taking one of the cliffs of Red Rock and blasting it apart. In fact, much of the project will be restoration.
The site is the remnant of an old mine, mostly hidden from the view of travelers, residents and tourists in the area. More than four tons of waste rock were generated for each ton of gypsum extracted from the mine. Part of the project will include a massive cleanup of the (tens, hundreds of) thousands of tons of this waste rock that were generated during the mine’s operations.
One of the few options for getting any portion of this site restored is to approve some type of development in the area, allowing a developer to use the expectation of future profits being generated from the land to restore some areas of it. Turning the area over to the BLM as-is would be perhaps the worst option.
There is already a backlog of projects awaiting funding at the BLM. With the collapse of the market for raw land as a result of the construction bust and the consequent termination of the BLM’s auctions, there is no money allocated even for these existing projects, much less a cleanup of the scale required at Blue Diamond Hill.
This project can create jobs, it can help restore land ravaged by nearly a century of mining activities to a usable and enjoyable state and it can help to breathe a little life into our flagging economy.
We’re not going to get through this downturn by government micro-managing the economy and picking and choosing which businesses are worthy and which ideas deserve support. The way we’re going to get on the road to recovery is by entrepreneurs taking risks – identifying opportunities that no one else sees, investing their time, talent and treasure and pursuing their dreams, even when not pleasing to the dead-hand of our politicians and bureaucrats.
Blue Diamond Hill represents just the type of spirit of entrepreneurship Nevada needs. Especially now.
(Michael Chamberlain is Executive Director of Nevada Business Coalition.)