Both Carson City Manager Nick Marano and Northern Nevada Development Authority Director Rob Hooper say their recent trip to Europe set the stage for a partnership that will bring huge economic benefits to both western Nevada and Poland.
The trip took them not only to Eastern Europe but Dublin, Ireland and London. But both men were most impressed with the potential offered by Poland.
“Poland has now gone through 22 years of growth without a decline,” said Hooper. “Its economy is growing at 3-4 percent a year.”
Marano, who paid his own way on the two-week trip organized by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Gov. Brian Sandoval, said his goal was to find small, start-up companies looking for “a landing pad” in the United States.
He said what those companies need that they can’t get in Poland is access to venture capital, which they can get in the U.S. Marano said one firm, Axence, has already agreed to open for business in Carson City.
He said a young Polish doctor doing stem cell research also is considering northern Nevada after he completes a fellowship at Stanford University.
“We’re working hard to get him here,” he said.
Both men said the Poles offer a pool of highly educated engineers and others in part because of the repression during the Communist years. Marano said those young people had no jobs so they just kept going to school, earning advanced degrees in high-tech fields and computer programming among others.
During his visit to Lublin, Poland, he said he met with that city’s manager and they have agreed to formalize city-to-city exchanges. He and Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell will meet with Lublin officials for further talks when they attend the Smart Cities Conference in Israel in October.
Hooper said western Nevada is a great location for the Poles to consider because it has easy access to California markets at a much lower price than Silicon Valley. Hooper said Nevada also offers low taxes and favorable regulations for companies interested in coming to the U.S.
The men said there are a several companies seriously interested in coming here but that it won’t happen overnight — that the average time may be six years or more.
Hooper said a Polish delegation will come to Carson City this fall and that they intend to treat them just as well as Nevada’s delegation was treated in Poland.
“They treated us like royalty,” he said. “We’re going to treat them the same way.”
Hooper said Ireland too has some serious potential for the Carson area. He said the investment and development agency in Dublin “has a huge fund they want to use to help their tech companies go global.”
He credited Sandoval for “taking a positive step to putting Nevada into the global market place.”
“We’re creating a whole new business community here,” Hooper said. “We don’t need to build big warehouses for $11 an hour workers. We need to bring in technology businesses with six-figure incomes.”
But both men said it’s a two-way street because companies in this area want to break into the European market.
Marano added that Poland is a great location for Nevada firms looking to get into the European market because its costs are far lower than neighboring countries in that area such as Germany.
“We’re really creating a two-way street between them and us,” said Hooper.