Many Nevada companies are missing out on opportunities to grow their business and increase revenues because they don’t think about exporting their goods and services abroad.
That’s the message of Kristopher Sanchez, director of international trade with the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Sanchez spoke at a roundtable sponsored by the Urban Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas and encouraged companies to go on a trade mission to Australia in July. The deadline to apply is May 20.
Eight Nevada companies went on a trade mission to Poland, earlier this month and even more are expected to visit Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Australia is Nevada’s 10th largest trade partner with $104 million in exports in 2015. For 2015, Poland was Nevada’s 43rd largest export market at $10.3 million.
“Small to medium enterprises are the backbone of our economy,” Sanchez said. “From an economic development standpoint, it strengthens their ability to endure fluctuations in the economy and as they diversify they perform better in those markets.”
The office accepts applications for those companies looking to export and guides them on that path and what countries would be the best opportunities for them. If it’s determined they have opportunities in Australia, companies are eligible to get half of their travel costs covered on the trade mission via grants from the Small Business Administration.
Anika Howard, the owner of a boutique firm traveled to Poland and plans to do the same to Australia. Her AHA Management and Consulting specializes in performance improvements for its clients through cost reductions, sales increases, and market share improvements. She helps companies leverage social media and interactive marketing.
Howard, who launched her firm in 2009, said the mission has already helped set up business opportunities with companies in Poland and Polish firms that do business in America. She said she focused on Poland because it’s considered a “green island” with 23 years of economic expansion; it’s the largest recipient of funds from the European Union; and it has a highly educated workforce that’s 70 percent of the cost of other markets.
“The trade missions are a great way to help smaller companies go global and doing that not only helps the company but the economy here in Las Vegas. It exposes the market to opportunities here and shows them there are things happening beyond just the Strip,” she said.
Ken Evans president of the Urban Chamber of Commerce, announced Friday that the chamber plans to sign a memorandum of understanding to serve as the lead agency for the state to promote commerce in Africa. He said he welcomes the relationship and push for Las Vegas companies to export more.
“As a small business owner, one of the most daunting tasks it accessing foreign markets and the steps to do that successfully,” Evans said. “It requires a lot of work and time commitment.”
Sanchez said Nevada has done a great job of promoting its tourism and hospitality industry throughout the world, and that it’s impossible to walk into a room where people don’t know about Las Vegas and Nevada as a whole. The Desert Research Institute and Southern Nevada Water Authority have had success globally.
“Nevada has done a great job of prompting the tourism industry in the state, but when you talk about the clusters we’re developing, we are new to the world,” Sanchez said. “With Faraday Future coming to Las Vegas and Tesla up north, and the investment we have made in the state with manufacturing in Northern Nevada and WaterStart (water technology innovation) in Southern Nevada, we have generated a lot of momentum.”
Sanchez said one of the pluses of doing business in Australia for Nevada companies is that it opens access to parts of Asia and chance for growth in other markets. Most of the exports to Australia focus on agricultural products, mining equipment, water technology and other technology, Sanchez said.
Trade has fallen because of a downturn in the mining industry, but there’s been an increase in other sectors, Sanchez said. The five largest trading partners are Switzerland, India, China, Mexico and Canada. Gaming technology is a big part of exports, he said.