Bill Noonan, a longtime executive at Boyd Gaming, will start in his new position as chairman of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce at the beginning of 2017. This continues a legacy the gaming company began nearly six decades ago when Sam Boyd held the post in 1961.
“I’m really honored to not only represent our company but also our founder and the chamber next year,” Noonan said.
Noonan, senior vice president of industry and governmental affairs at Boyd Gaming, plans to have his hands full with Nevada’s legislative session starting early next year and helping to increase a presence in Washington, D.C., to support small and large businesses in Las Vegas, along with helping those entities through various programs and tools at the chamber’s disposal.
He was sworn in at an installation ceremony during a luncheon Dec. 8 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Besides following Boyd’s legacy, he is also the first chairman from the gaming industry to serve in more than 20 years. Noonan has had years of experience in policy roles. On top of his experience at Boyd, he served as city manager of Las Vegas from 1991 to 1993 and held a similar position in Florida.
Noonan holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Science in public administration, with an economics minor, from Missouri State University.
He serves on several boards: the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee; Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; the Council for a Better Nevada; the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance; and the Nevada Resort Association, of which he is vice chairman.
This experience will help Noonan at his new position at the chamber. On the state level, Noonan said he’ll be looking for any legislation introduced that could impede the growth of businesses in the state, though there’s nothing on the table to report yet, he said.
But the business community can expect to keep up with any developments.
“We’re really aggressive at making sure the business community stays plugged into what happens in Carson City,” he said.
In Carson City, Noonan doesn’t expect there to be too much of an issue with Democrats gaining enough seats to grab control of the state Assembly and the state Senate.
“The chamber has always had great relationships with both sides of the aisle. And at the end of the day, we’re all Nevadans first,” Noonan said.
He said the chamber is expanding efforts next year with its activity in Washington, D.C.
“He’s (Harry Reid) been such a supporter of the chamber and of the business community,” Noonan said. “Losing him, we’re going to have to educate a whole new group of people about what Nevada’s all about.”
Losing Reid could open the door to Congress reopening the debate on bringing nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain again. But Noonan said the chamber is ready to oppose these efforts.
But on a positive note, Noonan said President-elect Trump offered support for bringing Interstate 11 from Phoenix to Boulder City.
“That’s going to be one of my big pushes — to get funding for the completion of the segment between Phoenix and Las Vegas,” he said. “We’re two major metropolitan areas that don’t have an interstate system between the two.”
Good work already has been done with the state’s economy.
During his speech at the Cosmopolitan, Noonan referenced Gov. Brian Sandoval’s statements about Nevada recouping 186,000 jobs it lost during the recession. That brought the number of jobs in the state to a record-high of 1.3 million, he said.
Also in his speech, Noonan said there was work to be done on the local level as well.
“We will push for smart investments in our community, including education, transportation, infrastructure, water and health care,” Noonan said.
On education, he hopes to bring positive changes to Nevada colleges and universities.
“We will focus our efforts on workforce development that can give the state a strong and competitive advantage when it comes to economic development and wage growth,” he said.
Beyond government, the chamber also offers several services to small businesses, including low-cost office supplies. Noonan said the chamber can leverage its buying power and save small businesses money.
Another thing that he hopes to have returned to the chamber is its health insurance that was offered to small businesses before the Affordable Care Act was enacted.
Noonan said he’s going to watch what happens with the ACA with the new administration.