Henderson, Nevada – Best Practices: City Management

September 4, 2019
Henderson, Nevada aerial city view with mountains and blue sky in the background.

In 1990, Henderson, Nevada had a population of 71,000. In less than 30 years, they’ve grown to over 300,000. While this could be certainly diagnosed as a “great problem to have”, with it comes a new share of challenges and focus. We sit down with Ken Chapa, Economic Development Officer to discuss best practices and innovation for a city on the rise!

 

Growth: First off, to set the stage; Henderson, Nevada has grown from under 100K pop in the 90’s to over 300K now, what do you attribute this to? What were the catalysts that lead to this?

 

Henderson, Nevada was long considered a bedroom community of Las Vegas but began surging as a business community over the last five years. And by no means was its transition to become the second largest city in the fastest growing state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a happy accident. Henderson’s focus on bringing its vision to life through planning and strategic investments set the stage for this momentum.

By focusing on attracting and developing businesses across the city, Henderson, Nevada’s city leadership created the environment that has led to remarkable growth. That meant prioritizing excellent schools, a strong and diversified economy, a city staff that is known for making business matters easier, providing access to affordable housing and award-winning parks and trails. All of which led to the burgeoning community that is now recognized as one of the safest in America.

Pair that with Henderson, Nevada’s low cost of doing business — almost 30% less than its neighbors to the west — along with no state corporate or personal income tax, and the advantages of being in Henderson become clear. That’s resulted in companies like Vinotemp, Retro Manufacturing and Box Manufaktur making the decision to relocate from California. They aren’t the only ones. Fifty-six percent of new arrivals in Henderson between 2013 and 2017 were from California, according to Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles data.

Henderson’s proximity to major markets is key for businesses looking to set up distribution and fulfillment centers, as they can get to Los Angeles ports and back within the 8-hour turnaround time and provide same day delivery to customers throughout Phoenix and Utah.

 

Challenges: What are the challenges that Henderson would feel as a result to such growth? Sustainability, Infrastructure, etc… How did you face these challenges?

 

Perception is one of the biggest challenges the City of Henderson faces. Southern Nevada has more work to do on communicating the benefits of its location and workforce — which consists of over two million people within a 45-minute commute, making up skilled and unskilled labor, as well as executives. Another challenge is diversifying our economy, which has been a huge focus for the City of Henderson. We’re much more than a travel and tourism destination and are working to bring in more diverse industries such as manufacturing and other high-wage employers.

As we’ve welcomed population growth, transportation has become and will continue to be top of mind. The City has been working directly with the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) to get people in and out of Henderson faster, whether that’s through new light rail or bus routes.

Schools are also a focus. We’ve taken a proactive approach on student-to-teacher ratios. We’ve also focused on building charter schools, which are some of the highest performing in the country. Along with public schools, charter schools provide even more options for families, which makes Henderson a more attractive place to house your family.

In Southern Nevada, the conversation always goes to water. Since we anticipated and planned for this growth, we have worked diligently with the Southern Nevada Water Authority to develop a strict water conservation program. We are fully aware that we live and operate in a desert and developed some of the best water conservation programs in the country while still being able to facilitate large scale projects.

 

Success/Milestones

Where are you at now?

What were the outcomes?

How have you adapted to be able to thrive for future growth?

While a diverse group of companies have long called Henderson home, the Raiders’ decision to select Henderson for their corporate headquarters and practice facility brought national recognition. What followed was the groundbreaking of Google’s $600 million data center, a new Vegas Golden Knights hockey facility that will be located in the heart of downtown Water Street, HAAS Automation’s 2.34 million square foot facility that will employ thousands of workers, and most recently, an Amazon distribution center.

This is the result of our focus to bring in high wage industries to Henderson that continue to diversify our economy, including Healthcare and Life Sciences, Headquarters and Back Office, Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics, and Technology.

We know how important it is to create great partnerships with our development community to achieve this. If we can continue to cut the red tape and make it easy for our developers to build office, industrial and retail space in our city, then we are better able to attract our share of industry expansions and relocations. That’s been the idea behind some of the larger developments taking place throughout all of West Henderson, as well as Union Village — a first of its kind 155-acre, $1.2 billion integrated health care village — and The Village — a mixed-use retail, restaurant and office space going up near the Raiders facility.

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