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2017 State of the Chamber & Installation Luncheon speech by Chairman-Elect Bill Noonan

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Thank you, Kristin.  And thank you, Lt. Governor Hutchison for the honor of swearing me into this office. We truly appreciate your engagement with the Las Vegas Metro Chamber. 


Your leadership as Chairman of the Commission on Tourism, Vice-Chairman of the State Board of Transportation, and as a member of the Board of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, is helping to create good jobs and grow the Nevada economy. And we thank you for your service to the community.  And, of course, thanks to all of you in this room, for your faith in allowing me to serve as chairman of this great organization.


The Chamber continues to focus heavily on diversity among the Trustees.  And following the great leadership of Bob Brown in 2015, and John Guedry this year, they have decided to go for the “hair challenged” this time around!!  All kidding aside, I want to take a quick moment to recognize our outgoing chairman, John Guedry.  John, please come on back up, and I want to ask your wife, Debbie Guedry, to join us as well.


John, you have done an exceptional job over the past year.  As you highlighted in your earlier remarks, the Metro Chamber has had a year of tremendous accomplishments, from developing new ways for members to connect with each other, to standing up for them on many important issues, including the proposed Department of Labor Overtime Rule that was blocked just two weeks ago by a federal judge.


This ill-conceived proposal would have added tremendous payroll costs and workforce management issues to private and non-profit employers of all sizes.  This Chamber’s early and vocal opposition to this rule is a great example of how the Metro Chamber fights for the members.  


Through the Metro Chamber, John and I met with lawmakers in Washington on several occasions to urge them to stop the new rule from taking effect.    And, we were one of the first business organizations in the country to endorse Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s lawsuit, that ultimately prevented this rule from taking effect.  This was a big victory for us, and really good news for employers everywhere.


Also, under John’s leadership, the Chamber board created the Finance Committee to help guide the Chamber in its long-term strategic planning.  And I also want to recognize John and Debbie’s efforts to create the Be Engaged program - bringing together the business community with our school system - to help improve outcomes and build an education system we can all take pride in. 


John, you are leaving me some big shoes to fill!  In recognition of your service - it’s our pleasure to give you this token of our appreciation.  Thank you for your service!


I also want to thank my fellow members, both returning and new, on the Board of Trustees for their commitment to serve the Metro Chamber.  Let’s give them another BIG round of applause.


In particular, I want to recognize Mike Bolognini, our chairman in waiting and my “wing man” for the next 12 months. Mike, I am looking forward to working with you over the next year, and we all appreciate Cox Communications’ willingness to allow you to serve in this important role.


I also want to thank my wife Sylvia – in advance! – for putting up with the crazy hours that come with my new role as the Chamber Chairman - you have all heard the term “it takes a village” – well Sylvia is the Noonan village as she keeps us all very grounded.   


 Also with us today is my son Jason, Senior Business Development Manager with the Starbucks Corporation - I’m going to need a LOT of Starbucks to keep up over the next 12 months! -- and my daughter-in-law Theresa, a Marriage and Family Therapist, whose professional skills may also come in handy after all of the hours away from home next year! 


Jason and Theresa are great parents to our adorable granddaughters Khloe and Tinsley, and it is my family – and my two granddaughters in particular that keep me focused on the future. 


It is for them … and for all of us … that I commit myself to helping build a strong and prosperous southern Nevada community… rich with opportunities for all… and offering a great quality of life for its residents.


As I step into the role of chairman of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber, I am inspired by a quote from Henry Ford, who once said "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success."


This really captures what this Chamber is all about.  For more than a century, the Metro Chamber has been helping shape the southern Nevada community - helping make it a place where businesses can grow and thrive.  The Chamber has always been the place where local businesses, large and small, can come together to envision our collective future.


Boyd Gaming has been proud to play a leading role in this organization for decades.  Our Company’s founder, Sam Boyd, served as the Chairman of this great organization in 1961, and I am humbled and honored to follow in Mr. Boyd’s footsteps today.


Sam knew – and Boyd Gaming knows – that the business community is stronger when we come together to speak as one voice.


For those of you not familiar with our history, Boyd Gaming came from modest roots. We began in 1975, when Sam and Bill Boyd opened the California Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas.  And it wasn’t an easy start.  As Bill Boyd likes to say, back in those days, their main goal was simply making payroll! 


So while Boyd Gaming is a large company today… we know the challenges that small businesses face each and every day.  It’s one of the reasons we are strong supporters of the Metro Chamber – because it really looks out for the interests of small businesses.


And we know - what an important role southern Nevada played in our success.  This community’s pro-business climate helped Boyd Gaming grow from that single property into a nationwide company, with operations in seven states. 


We have 10 properties here, and nearly 10,000 southern Nevada residents work for us.  We want to do everything we can to build a stronger, more prosperous community that we can all take pride in.  That’s why our Executive Chairman, Bill Boyd, and my boss - our President and CEO, Keith Smith - agreed to allow me to devote my time and energy to this important role.


I am honored that Keith is with us today, and I want to thank him for his support… his willingness to let me serve as the Chamber Chairman, and his strong and enduring support of this organization. 


As I now begin to look toward the upcoming year of Chamber service – I realize there is no other organization in Southern Nevada that has done more to help our community thrive than the Las Vegas Metro Chamber. 


85% of Chamber members are small businesses.  As such, the Chamber is laser focused on helping our local small business community succeed.  Small businesses need connections, visibility and resources.  The Metro Chamber provides opportunities to network and build customer relationships such as, opportunities to grow your business through procurement workshops and connections; and opportunities to save money on worker’s compensation insurance, HR-USA resources and everyday business expenses. 


I am pleased to report that recent member surveys have given the Chamber high marks for our renewed focus on nurturing member relations, and providing new ways for members to connect with each other.   

In 2017, we will strengthen the value of your membership even more.   In addition to more than 100 events each year, the Chamber will stay focused on relevant and timely on-line and live educational resources.   And soon, we’ll be rolling out an all-new website that is more interactive and user-friendly -  than ever before. 


We also will focus on connecting our members to each other in a more individualized way. We will involve members in industry sector groups and programs that have allowed the Chamber to be an important force in advancing our community and economy. 


Small businesses need to know they have a strong voice looking out for them.  And no other business association in Nevada speaks up for small businesses better than the Las Vegas Metro Chamber.  Chamber Government Affairs staff, led by Paul Moradkhan, one of the leading government affairs professionals in the state, - spend more than 1,200 hours – and triple that during a legislative year - representing your interests to lawmakers at every level of government. 


During the last legislative session, for example, the Chamber successfully pushed for legislation to integrate state and local government business licensing, making it easier for new businesses to be created.  The Chamber also pushed to reform the board structure of the health district to better serve businesses and residents of Southern Nevada, cutting red tape and increasing transparency.


We will continue to serve as a clearinghouse of ideas, vision, collective voices and power to turn ideas into reality for our region - and as our community’s business leaders, we need you to be engaged - informed and - united in supporting the Chamber as we advocate for business.


Business isn’t separate from the community; it is the very foundation of our community. 


Healthy businesses provide good-paying jobs that empower families and help them thrive.


Healthy businesses make investments that drive job growth in construction, real estate, financial services, tourism and energy.


Healthy businesses generate tax revenues that fund this community’s infrastructure, education, public safety and other services… all which contribute to the quality of life of every southern Nevada resident.


In essence - When business thrives, southern Nevada thrives. 


That is the message we must deliver to our policymakers at every level of government. We must speak with a strong and consistent voice, and have confidence to tell our story as entrepreneurs and employers.


We must be vigilant in opposition to legislation that undermines job creation in our community, and vigilant against policies that put more pressure on small business owners and make it harder for them to survive.


Nevada has made so much progress over the years since the Great Recession ended.  In recent weeks, Nevada employment reached an all-time high of 1.3 million, as we recovered every one of the 186,000 jobs lost in the recession.  And, as Gov. Sandoval recently noted, we are creating good, sustainable jobs.


That’s a tremendous accomplishment by the business community.  And we need lawmakers’ help and cooperation if we are to continue our strong track record of job creation.


At the local government level, the Chamber will remain a visible and engaged presence.  We will push for smart investments in our community, including education, transportation, infrastructure, water, and health care.  We are committed to supporting this community, but we want to make sure those investments are carefully thought out and truly in the best interests of every part of our community.


North Las Vegas is an important part of the future of our entire region, and I would like to thank Mayor John Lee for being here today. Under the leadership of Mayor Lee, North Las Vegas has transformed itself into a manufacturing and distribution hub, creating thousands of new jobs.  At the Chamber, we look forward to continuing our support for the Mayor’s strong vision and tireless efforts to develop the North Las Vegas economy – particularly at APEX, which is clearly a crown jewel of economic opportunity.


We are also pleased to have members of the Las Vegas City Council here today, and we appreciate our great partnership with you and Mayor Carolyn Goodman. The Metro Chamber is a strong supporter of Mayor Goodman’s vision of having a vibrant, robust downtown business community. 


That’s why I’m pleased to announce that the Downtown Las Vegas Alliance moved its office to the Las Vegas Metro Chamber last week, so that our organizations can work together to build a unified business voice that will enhance our downtown core.


The City of Henderson also continues to play a key role in the economic vibrancy of our region, particularly with the opening of the new Henderson Hospital and medical campus.  We appreciate that Councilwoman Debra March has joined us today and look forward to working with her on many projects, -  particularly transportation infrastructure.


And the Chamber will continue to work with Clark County Commissioners, and new County Manager Yolanda King - to advocate for policies across the County that foster economic growth.  We thank the Commissioners who are joining us today, and look forward to continuing to work on initiatives to strengthen and diversify our regional economy.


As we head into the 2017 Legislature, the Chamber will be, as it always is, engaged with a full-time presence in Carson City, representing your interests every single day.  I want to thank all of the legislators who are here today.  We value our relationship with you and look forward to working with you quite soon.


Next year in Carson City, we will do more than oppose legislation that threatens the vitality of our state’s economy.  We will also actively support policies and legislation that lay the foundation for a thriving business community.   


We will press for legislation -  that will make our region more competitive.    That starts with supporting and advocating for the priorities established during the Southern Nevada Forum.  I would like to thank Southern Nevada legislative leadership for their bi-partisan efforts to move Southern Nevada forward.  And I would like to thank our many partners in this room for their collaboration and engagement in this community endeavor.


For the 2017 legislative session, the Chamber will advocate for higher education reform, making sure our higher ed system is aligning with the needs of employers.  We will carefully review Brooking Institution studies on the subject.  A higher education system focused on   workforce development can give our state a strong competitive advantage - when it comes to economic development and wage growth. 


Also this year, the UNLV School of Medicine will accept its first class of students.    Thanks in part to the Chamber and its strong support, this game-changer is becoming a reality.  And the Metro Chamber will continue to be a passionate advocate of the school.  The UNLV Medical School, as well as the two private medical schools, are essential to the health and well-being of our community – especially given Las Vegas ranks at the bottom – at the number of physicians per capita.


Keeping you informed and engaged in the lawmaking process is a priority of mine for the Chamber.  In addition to the weekly Rundown email that is a comprehensive update on legislation, one of the most valuable benefits we offer our President’s Club members is the “Paul Call” – a bi-weekly conference call with government affairs - VP Paul Moradkhan that gives up-to-the-minute updates on what is happening in Carson City.  If you are a President’s Club member – don’t miss out on the Paul Call – it is a great resource to keep up with the legislature.


To give the same type of information to all members, brand new in 2017, I will be implementing the Chamber hosted monthly Carson City Call with all members during the legislative session.  Through the Carson City Call, all members can hear directly from our Government Affairs team on proposed legislation - that could impact your business.  We hope you enjoy this new Chamber service!


Additionally, we are expanding our BizPAC program to include calls to action for our members.  Nothing conveys the strong voice of the business community more effectively than having employers communicate directly with legislators.  Our collective voice carries significant weight in Carson City, and we will need your help to make sure that our voice is heard loud and clear.


While the Chamber is willing to work with lawmakers on a host of issues, let me be clear:  we cannot have another tax hike solely on the shoulders of the business community.  While there may be gaps in the budget, we have to remember that businesses just absorbed the largest tax hike ever during the 2015 session. 


With the new Commerce Tax, increase in Modified Business Tax, Live Entertainment Tax, as well as the Business License Fee, businesses have stepped up.  And we are feeling some “tax fatigue.”


Now we need lawmakers to step up as well and look for other ways to fund our state’s growing needs.

We need to look at efficiencies that the Sage Commission and the Guinn Center have recommended.  We need to look at spending -  and focus it on priorities that will help create jobs and move the regional economy forward that in turn will generate more tax revenue.


The Chamber will do its part to work with lawmakers and Governor Sandoval, but we will draw the line on asking business to carry the burden alone.  Businesses are already paying their fair share, and we cannot risk a tipping point that will harm employers, -  limit economic investment - or curtail job growth -  that will hurt Nevada families.


Staying engaged at the federal level is every bit as important.  The Chamber will continue to support the construction of the I-11 corridor between Las Vegas and Phoenix.


The Metro Chamber will remain an outspoken proponent of policies that help travel and tourism grow and thrive. 


Healthcare insurance reform will be a Chamber priority as well.


And – most importantly -  the Metro Chamber will continue to strongly resist efforts to restart Yucca Mountain. 


To be an effective proponent for southern Nevada in Washington, the Chamber needs to help decision-makers truly understand this community.  And the Metro Chamber has had the foresight to build relationships in Washington beyond our Nevada delegation, and our D.C. program is one of the most robust in the country.


With the retirement of Senator Reid, Nevada is losing one of its staunchest friends in Washington.  A new president is entering the White House, and a new Congress will be sworn in.  This means the Metro Chamber must engage even more at the federal level, working with our Congressional delegation to make sure our state’s interests are being heard, and that lawmakers understand the significant role our state plays in growing the regional and national economy. 


And that’s why I am happy to announce that the Chamber will be elevating our annual Washington, D.C. trip in 2017 - to continue building relationships that are essential to achieving our federal priorities.  Our annual Vegas Night on Capitol Hill will showcase our iconic city, its food, culture, accomplishments and economic priorities to Senators, Representatives and legislative staffers from across the country.


 Additionally, we will introduce Nevada Night in Washington, helping create a broader understanding with leaders in Washington about Nevada, our industries, challenges and opportunities as a key region in growing the national economy. 


These two events are an important opportunity to discuss our state’s priorities with federal decision makers.  I hope you will make a commitment to be part of it.  Thank you in advance Congressman Porter for helping make this a reality.


As we look for ways to advance the interests of the local business community, let’s be clear --

no one political party has all the right answers or formulas. 


Our role is not to serve as partisan cheerleaders, but to work with lawmakers from all sides to promote pragmatic policies that lead to sustainable job creation and economic growth. Lawmakers from both parties recognize that good-paying jobs are the foundation for strong communities.  So it is imperative for all of us to work with them and to educate them, to ensure that they do no harm to the employers and entrepreneurs who are driving our local economy. 


Before concluding, I want to take a moment to thank Kristin McMillan for her vision and leadership, and to recognize her dedicated staff.  They are the ones who really drive the organization and fulfill the promises we as the Board of Trustees make to you.  Would all of the Chamber staff please stand and let’s give them a round of applause?


We are living through transformative times.   So I want to begin my year as chairman by issuing a challenge to every one of you - to get involved with the Chamber – engage yourself and your company. Beyond what the Chamber can do for you and your business, together, we can do so much good for our community.   Let’s heed Henry Ford’s advice, to come together, keep together, and work together in order to build and sustain a bright future. 


Let me personalize this challenge for you.  At the end of the day, what is most important to me as “Namps Noonan” … as I am called by my granddaughters… is to create for them a vibrant business community that can afford -  the tax revenue we need to support their education in Clark County, and ensure that they have good job opportunities awaiting them when they are ready to join the workforce.


Let’s pledge to our children and our grandchildren, as I will do to mine, that we will continue to work together to strengthen the business community through our Metro Chamber memberships.  And I’ll conclude - by pledging to live up to this commitment as your new Chairman.