LAUGHLIN — The Laughlin Nevada Times caught up with Laughlin Town Manager Brian Paulson for a few minutes recently to discuss all things Laughlin — and many they are.
The three-year tenure for Paulson has been prosperous for Laughlin: The township’s population has grown, new homes have been built and plans for energy infrastructure in Clark County are being made.
The 2010 Census posted Laughlin at about 7,000 permanent residents; Paulson said that the town now has closer to 11,000. The 2020 Census will tell the true tale but the town’s population has been on the rise, Paulson said.
Home-building has continued on with new homes snapped up quickly as two of the larger home-
builders in the state both have been busy in Laughlin. Paulson said that there is a lull in construction as builders have gone north to develop elsewhere in Nevada, but new construction continues at pace, both residential and commercial.
Visitor totals to Laughlin are lower than in previous years. Prior to the downturn in 2008-09 the town used to see between 3 million and 5 million visitors per year; visitor totals are now under 2 million a year,
Consolidation of ownership on Casino Row means fewer companies own more of the gaming and resort property in Laughlin.
Other development for Laughlin and surrounding Clark County is the massive amount of county land available for solar and renewable energy development. Four years ago, NextEra Energy Resources captured a grant to develop a portion of the 9,000 acres of land available in the Laughlin area after outbidding First Solar for the rights. Since then, little development has occurred and NextEra has pulled out of the $1.2 million annual lease, returning control of the land to Clark County, where it must go through public release before another bidding cycle can occur.
Since then, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declared that the land likely had unexploded military munitions on the parcel, some of which date back to the 1800s through World War II, and all the way up to 1964. The Corps notified Clark County of the possibility last September and has yet to set a time frame for clearance of the land for development, leaving both Clark County and Laughlin in limbo.
Development of that land for renewable energy was seen as playing a part in increasing the state’s renewable portfolio standard in line with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order to bring the state renewable portfolio standard up to 50% by 2030. Sisolak signed that order on Earth Day earlier this year.
The setback by the Army Corps of Engineers does not help that timetable.
Still, Paulson remained positive in his role as Laughlin town manager and said he sees the possibilities for Laughlin and southern Clark County as many.