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When Brian Sandoval presides over his final Governor’s Conference on Business on Oct. 18, the Nevada economy will be far different than during the inaugural event in 2012.
Then Nevada led the nation in unemployment, foreclosures and the percentage of homes underwater. Today some businesses cope with worker shortages and home prices have come roaring back.
The last six years have also seen an increased presence in the state of technology companies such as Tesla, Switch, Amazon and Google.
“Today we are seeing those dark days of 2012 as a distant image in the rearview mirror,” CJ Manthe, director of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry told State of Nevada.
She also said the state is moving in the direction of Sandoval’s vision of a New Nevada, where a diploma is as valued as a union card.
“I would say we’re very close to that goal,” Manthe said. “While we see mining and gaming are still the flagships of our economy, we now have a diverse mix of emerging industries.”
Manthe pointed to improving unemployment numbers and rising home prices as examples of just how far Nevada has come.
The annual conference, which typically draws several hundred, is being held this year in Las Vegas. The daylong event features advice on launching and funding a business, networking opportunities, and speeches by Sandoval and Manthe.
Also on the docket of speakers is Jerri Merritt, senior vice president for Bank of Nevada.
Merritt said that while the economy has improved dramatically from the dark days of 2012 there are still challenges for small businesses and startups in Nevada.
“Having access to capital, to be able to fund those great ideas is the greatest challenge we have in the state right now,” she said.
Merritt said the problem isn't finding funding but qualifying for it. She said many veteran-owned businesses and businesses owned by women of color struggle with capital for the same reason they don't have a lot of funding built up, to begin with.
She also believes that we are close to realizing the dream of a New Nevada and she credits part of that with people in the state starting their own businesses after being laid off during the Great Recession.
Now, Merritt believes to get over the finish line Nevada needs to bring even more large diverse corporations to the state.
CJ Manthe, director, Nevada Department of Business and Industry; Jerri Merritt, senior vice president, Bank of Nevada