Where leads come from

Every day I am asked: What's happening? Are business inquiries up? Are more California companies moving to Nevada? The answer is yes and no.

Gone are the days when economic developers would receive 35 to 40 business inquiries each month from Nevada's Commission on Economic Development.

Now that California's business climate has completely gone sideways, major issues with budget, taxes, regulations and overall cost of living have inspired more California companies to examine Nevada as a possible relocation.

First of all, we never kick California while they are down. California still is the Golden State. However, their business environment is the worst in the nation. Nevada's current government leadership also is questionable and unrealistic at times, so we have to be careful when criticizing our neighbor. "Our state (Nevada) is at a crossroads requiring leadership and planning, driven by a sense of urgency. The old way of doing business won't cut it for the rest of the 21st century. Nevada must reinvent itself economically," says Guy Rocha, Nevada state archivist emeritus.

With more than $750 million in additional taxes passed during the last legislative session, many potential new businesses are examining the Silver State much more closely and, much more seriously.

Nevada Business Connections receives leads and referrals from many sources. Our 170 members provide the most leads and referrals, followed by existing companies who have moved to northern Nevada during the last 15 years. The chambers of commerce in our service area also forward industrial leads to us. Here are some current business inquiry statistics:

In September, members generated six inquires, compared with four a year ago. Existing companies that moved to northern Nevada provided three leads, the same as last year. Chambers of commerce and email inquiries each produced one lead, the same as last year.

During September, three on-site visits were conducted compared to two in 2008. Year-to-date, on-site visits total nine compared to six at this time last year. Today, 55 percent of our clients are inquiring from California. Ninety percent of our clients are mom-and-pop operations employing 10 to 80. This compares to the 80 percent of all clients that were from California six years ago and 80 percent of that 80 percent were from Southern California. Three quarters of our clients are manufacturers and the remainder are from back office industries and warehouse/distribution companies.

A few of my current favorite referral experiences in business recruitment include a backpack manufacturer from San Diego that we lost to Sacramento because of California's incentive programs (tax breaks, loan discounts, moving expenses, etc.). I called the client in Sacramento and asked him if he knew of any companies who might consider relocating to Nevada from San Diego. He gave me the name of his San Diego Mercedes mechanic, who provided me with several great leads. A concrete contractor from San Jose has turned us on to a commercial bakery that is in a major growth mode, as well as an electronics firm that already does business in Carson City. David Toll with Gold Hill Publishing received a serious inquiry from one of his monthly subscribers to The Nevada Travelgram. Our observation tower manufacturer referral came from a restaurant/bar in Lake Tahoe.

NBC was asked to participate in the California legislative forum held in Reno last March with the Nevada Motor Transport Association. We provided a dozen manufacturers, who moved from California to Nevada, to testify on the reasons why they left and their moving experiences. More than 100 media representatives were present, interviewing these companies individually. Besides being quoted in several California newspapers, NBC was invited to an interview on KFI news-talk radio in Los Angeles. We received eight direct leads because of this exposure.

NBC conducts six to eight business recruitment missions each year, mainly focusing on California manufacturers. We travel with our members, University of Nevada, Reno, Southwest Gas Corp. and the Nevada State Development Corp.

"You don't wait for clients to visit or offer them a fun-filled weekend in northern Nevada. You get over the hill, into their company and show genuine interest in their operations. Nose-to-nose and toe-to-toe," says Steve Hartman with Vidler Water Company.

Leads and referrals come from everywhere. If you have a friend or relative who is involved in business who may be interested in northern Nevada, please let us know. We will be happy to follow-up. "We're not the experts, but we know who they are" is our slogan. NBC is a private, non-profit business recruitment and development organization based in Carson City, serving the capital region.

Kris Holt is executive director of Nevada Business Connections, a private nonprofit business development organization headquartered in Carson City.


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