City of Henderson: City of the Future

At a time when technology makes daily leaps from innovation to reality, it’s people and the companies they form that bring the awe factor to life. In Henderson, both innovations and innovators are celebrated and cultivated, from the entrepreneurial spirit of downtown Henderson to the city being home to nationwide firsts. It’s people that transform a city into a City of the Future. In Henderson, it’s people making the city extraordinary.

City of Innovation and Technology

Imagine going to a hospital for surgery or an emergency visit without the fear of contracting an infection. Today, when bacterial infection is a threat at almost every hospital, Henderson Hospital is the first in the country with a silver ion answer.

“Across the hospital, our counter tops are all silver ion infused,” said Sam Kaufman, CEO of the hospital. The infused counter tops and door handles instantly stop the spread of bacterial infection.

The hospital is also the first to use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria. Every operating theater, C-section suite and emergency room bay in Henderson Hospital features UV lights. As white lights they burn off infection while patients and staff are present. Once housekeeping has thoroughly cleaned and the space is empty again, purple lights burn off bacteria.

It sounds like science fiction. It definitely sounds entrepreneurial. The hospital, which opened October 31, was in planning and construction for more than four years. It’s the sixth Valley Health System hospital to open in Southern Nevada and, according to Kaufman, when it comes to the new technology, everything on the drawing board got put into place, including noise reduction mechanics and new, quiet communications systems.

“The growth of healthcare development has been important to the city and important in terms of opportunity and choices for medical care,” said Barbra Coffee, director, Economic Development and Tourism, City of Henderson. The $168 million hospital now employs more than 500 people and is already looking to expand.

Henderson Hospital is the anchor tenant for Union Village, the first integrated healthcare delivery model to go live in the United States. Union Village is expected to include skilled nursing and long-term acute care facilities, senior apartments and condos, a health club, retail and restaurants within a walkable “city within a city”.

In fact, Henderson itself is walkable. In addition to the 64 city parks there’s Henderson’s downtown. The Water Street District is the historic heart of the city, where “Main Street USA meets progressive, dynamic thinking.”

City of Entrepreneurs

Henderson is fast becoming a place for entrepreneurs not just because it’s geographically located with fast access to the western U.S. or because it’s growing, but because city leaders are actively reaching out to startups.

“We have begun creating an eco-system for supporting entrepreneurs and fostering their endeavors,” said Coffee. That means offering community support and opportunities to collaborate. The Water Street District in particular is a place for innovators to flourish.

“We have monthly meetings with Entrepreneurs Assembly and quarterly Water Street Rall-e’s to bring entrepreneurs together to talk about what they’re working on and engage with and inspire each other,” Coffee added.

Henderson’s Small Business Development Center and Henderson Business Resource Center (Henderson Chamber) offer programs, seminars and connections to financial resources.

“We even convene a Young Entrepreneurs Alliance which is designed for our high school teenagers,” said Coffee. The program allows teens to start and build businesses throughout the school year and ends with a national business pitch competition.

The programs are working. Touro University is partnering with Parallel Innovation Labs which wants to bring a health sciences incubator to Henderson. Other companies are opening or expanding.

Windom Kimsey, president and CEO of TSK Architects invested in Henderson by locating his new development there: Southend on Water. The development is made up of mixed-use buildings and houses TSK Architects.

“The reason I’m bullish on downtown is, I think it’s one of the more walkable streets in Southern Nevada,” said Kimsey. “It’s a real downtown. It’s like an old fashioned main street. It suffered during the recession, but it has huge potential going forward.”

In creating the TSK headquarters, the company utilized brand new technology. SageGlass, from a Minnesota manufacturer, is an electrochromic glass with a low voltage current running through it. Sensors on every side of the building measure sunlight hitting the glass and automatically adjust the level of tint.

“The idea is the energy efficiency and we couple that with operable windows and ceiling fans everywhere, trying to be very energy efficient with the building,” said Kimsey. The automatic tint can be overridden for those who like more or less daylight, and the manufacturer considers the TSK use in Southern Nevada beta testing in our desert climate.

A City Where the Sky is the Limit

Nevada’s geography serves as a huge plus for Henderson businesses. The area provides ease of access to the eleven western states and to the ports in Southern California – manufacturers can get their product out easily. Another benefit is the land itself: there’s room in growing communities like Henderson to build large projects.

The desert is also rich in overhead acreage – the wide open sky is great for aerial testing. Tie in a military presence with Creech and Nellis Air Force Bases in Southern Nevada, and aviation with McCarran International Airport and Henderson Executive Airport, and the sky’s not even the limit for testing purposes.

Praxis Aerospace Concepts International, Inc., located in Henderson because of the wide variety of office and warehouse locations available, and because it was separate geographically from both the Las Vegas Strip and the defense-focused areas in North Las Vegas, according to Jonathan Daniels, CEO.

Praxis works with ground-air-sea-industrial response robotics and unmanned systems in both civil/commercial and defense use. Daniels finds Southern Nevada a good fit because of the community.

“We have an extensive internship and apprentice program that has welcomed students from UNLV and [Clark County School District] schools. Several of our partner companies are also based in Henderson, so our location works well for face-to-face meetings and project collaborations,” said Daniels.

Startup company Spectral Sky also works with aviation programs within Southern Nevada schools, and with state and local level groups working with the new drone technology. The company located in Henderson because it was the right fit, partly due to the workforce.

Spectral Sky is an aerial data collection company that utilizes both drones and traditional aircraft. Products produced by Spectral Sky are used for survey work, maps and projects, to prepare future construction plans and mining endeavors.

“There’s a good number of folks with experience in these areas, folks in the drone business and the remote sensing business and in gaming,” said Bill Reynolds, CEO, Spectral Sky. “As for the customer base, there’s construction companies and there’s mining and these are good central locations for that.”

Nevada State College (NSC) also uses its Henderson location to work with drones. College officials have been in discussion with City of Henderson and Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, the new Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) non-profit initiative working with unmanned aerial systems. Henderson has been identified as a key location for building the first urban test site.

“In January we broke ground on a site at Nevada State College called the Henderson Unmanned Vehicle Range – HUVR for short,” said Coffee. HUVR is the location for drone testing in Southern Nevada in partnership with Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems.

“Ultimately we will start to expand [the site] and build an actual track and other related facilities to make this really the first of its kind in the state and a cutting edge testing facility for unmanned aerial systems,” said Bart Patterson, president, NSC.

The location is ideal, according to Patterson. The site is located on property roughly 20 minutes from McCarran International Airport. Along with ease of access for visitors to the site, there’s the potential for drones to leave line of sight at this location and still be controlled effectively.

“That’s a key training need that this site [provides] because of the mountainous terrain that surrounds the college,” said Patterson.

A City With a Workforce

Southern Nevada schools are working to create tomorrow’s workforce while using futuristic tech to accomplish those goals.

“Our K-12 system features some of the highest excelling schools in the Clark County system,” said Coffee.

And, they’re getting better. Coffee said NSC’s HUVR project successfully obtained grants funding from NASA to train Clark County School District teachers in collaboration with Rancho High School and Desert Research Institute to develop a curriculum for students interested in the aerospace industry.

Touro University is a private non-profit located in Henderson for the last 13 years. The largest medical school in Nevada, it’s in the process of expanding every specialty, growing from graduating 135 potential doctors every year to 175. Touro’s is the only physician’s assistant program in the state; the school plans to expand the program from 60 to 80 students annually.

Those students will reap the benefit of futuristic technology for training. A substantial grant is allowing the creation of the Michael Tang Simulation Center.

“A recent survey by the Association of American Medical Colleges demonstrated that simulation in medical education is among the most prominent innovations in medical education in the last 20 years,” said Shelley Berkley, CEO, Touro.

Thanks to the grant, the university will purchase a full body simulated patient that exhibits all vital signs, bleeds when cut open, and can be programed to experience heart attacks on cue, and can recreate other real life medical situations.

Touro is actively engaged in the Henderson community with partnerships with Southern Nevada Health District and mobile clinics that provide care to the homeless.

Roseman University of Health Sciences also partners with the community. The orthodontics program provides a less expensive resource than a private orthodontic office. Pharmacology students run a substance abuse awareness program. The school has also made tech available to the community in the form of medication disposal bags. Rather than flushing expired or unnecessary medications down the toilet, the bags neutralize the drugs.

“The bags are from Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals,” said Renee Coffman, president, Roseman. “It’s a bag that contains activated charcoal. You take medications, put them in a bag and add some water. It neutralizes medication so it won’t harm people, animals or the environment.”

City of Economic Opportunity

One thing that makes Henderson a good fit for startups is Nevada’s business friendly climate and the assistance available from local and state level economic development groups. Spectral Sky has worked with Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, City of Henderson Economic Development and GOED. Since forming, the company has worked with GOED on lobbying work regarding drones and aviation.

The Transmosis Bootcamp chose Henderson because of the workforce – and its potential. The program formed when Silicon Valley startup Transmosis, underfunded, realized there weren’t enough funds to hire within the tech community. Company leaders created an internal training program for people with transferable skills who wanted to train out of their current jobs or unemployment.

“If we have a workforce that’s available and talented then we’ll be successful,” said Coffee. “So where we know we have skill gaps in the area of, say, computer occupations, we have leveraged grants like from the Governor’s Office of Science Innovation and Technology STEM workforce challenge grant to work with a third party workforce accelerator like Transmosis.” Thirteen residents trained in IT Bootcamp’s first cohort and now work in the tech industry.

Federal and state grants in California, Nevada and Arizona allowed IT Bootcamp to take off, training workforces in fast-growing industries like cybersecurity.

“I realized there were a myriad of people here, not just in California but throughout the country who were underemployed and want to change [jobs] and have transferable skills,” said Chase Norlin, CEO, Transmosis. A meeting with Henderson economic development officials at an economic involvement conference led to creating a model program in Southern Nevada.

Kaseya, formed in 2000, is another tech company that located in Henderson. The organization deals with security. A global, software-focused IT service management company, Kaseya builds software for mass service providers and mid-market enterprise IT departments to simplify and safely manage their technology devices.

“Whenever they have machines on the network, we typically have the ability to monitor, manage and maintain,” said Dana Epp, Kaseya CTO. Using a set of software components, Kaseya’s tech allows companies to remotely manage everything from their tablets to the way Redbox secures customer’s credit cards.

Henderson is a good fit because the company wants to hire intelligent software engineers with experience working in environments of trust – Southern Nevada’s gaming industry fits right in, as does the aerospace industry. Add in proximity to Southern California and the tech employees there who could be lured to Henderson and it’s a great fit.

“Henderson is not a city that’s going to sit back and just let things happen,” said Coffee. “We’re a city that’s going to chart our own course and take advantage of the opportunities that are in front of us. We’re going to be out in front, and that’s a testament to what everybody is working together to create: opportunities to move the city forward.”

By Jennifer Rachel Baumer

City of Henderson: City of the Future