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Tim Burke: Responsible growth is possible for Pahrump

New retail stores, restaurants, and entertainment options are high on the list of desired services for many Pahrump residents.

Residents would rather spend their dollars here than make the trek to Las Vegas for those services. Unfortunately, that desire for those services is not enough to attract businesses to Pahrump. It must make economic sense for a business to choose to locate here.

There is an evaluation process that companies use when they are looking to locate their business into an area that helps them determine if the right economic conditions exist for the business to succeed. A standard formula considers the number of homes (rooftops), the median household income, and the competitive landscape for a specific geographic area.

There must be enough houses and enough income to support the new business. Even though Pahrump is growing, there is not yet a strong enough combination of rooftops and income to attract major chains. Nye County has the lowest median household income level in the state.

With Las Vegas currently booming and with a much higher rooftop-to-income ratio, businesses are focused on expanding there first before they move on to smaller secondary markets like Pahrump.

Without major new industries, our median income will stay at or near current levels. What will bring a change to the income levels are residents who live here but commute daily to Vegas for work. They make higher wages in Las Vegas and bring home those paychecks to Pahrump, increasing the spendable income per household.

In addition to providing needed and desired services, new businesses provide two important economic benefits to Pahrump. They bring jobs that we need to keep our youth living here and to help our retirees who want to supplement their income. They also bring additional tax revenues which pay for roads, police, fire, parks and other public services.

New homes and new residents will also help attract more services by increasing the number of rooftops, but there is a small vocal segment of residents that want no growth whatsoever. I am confused by the sentiment of the no-growth advocates.

The message seems to be, “now that I am here, shut the door.” Wait – they let you in, so how is that fair to other current Pahrump property owners who may want to build a home here? Perhaps what they are really trying to say is that they want to preserve our rural lifestyle and are afraid that growth will bring a negative change.

Growth will take place. The real issue is not trying to halt growth but to properly manage it by keeping the focus on maintaining our rural atmosphere. Pahrump and Nye County are very diverse. We have multimillion-dollar homes and low-cost affordable housing.

There are subdivisions with homeowners’ associations on smaller lots and large parcels with many acres of land with few regulations. There are agricultural areas, RV parks, horse properties, and manufactured home parks. This diversity means that we have a lot of housing choices, which makes this such a great place to live!

The challenge for our public officials is not growth. It is avoiding adding regulations that would infringe on our rural lifestyle. Invariably, when people move into a new community, they are used to having certain regulations. Often, they start clamoring for those regulations that they left behind to be instituted in their new community.

Doesn’t really make much sense since new residents often say that they moved here for the relaxed and rural lifestyle, but it happens with an alarming frequency. If we can avoid over-regulation, it is possible to have responsible growth, bringing in services and businesses residents want while maintaining our rural lifestyle!

Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at timstakenv@gmail.com

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