Sisolak: Why aren't Nevada companies hired to promote Nevada overseas?

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday questioned why Nevada companies aren't being hired to represent the state overseas. The question came up when the Board of Examiners reviewed two contracts to provide sales, marketing and public relations services to promote Nevada as a tourist destination for people in China and Latin America. The $225,000 China contract went to a California company, and the $500,000 Latin America contract to a Florida company. “It's hard for me to imagine that Nevada companies wouldn't apply,” he said. Acting Tourism Director Brenda Nebesky told the board one issue is who responds to a proposal, “which we don't have any power over.” In response to Sisolak's questioning, she said there are currently eight such contracts to promote Nevada in foreign companies — all of them are with out-of-state companies. Sisolak said he wants a review of the process to see if Nevada companies can be encouraged to apply, arguing Nevada companies should be better able to understand Nevada and promote the state. “I want to do more to try to reach out to Nevada companies that understand Nevada,” he said. “Keep these in state as much as we possibly can.” Bethany Drysdale, chief communications officer for the Nevada Division of Tourism, said Wednesday it's important people understand that while the companies that received the Chinese and Latin American contracts noted above have offices in America, they also have offices and staff overseas. “East West Marketing represents us in China, but happens to have a U.S. headquarters (in California). We work with the offices in China to represent us, not in the U.S.,” Drysdale said in a statement provided to the NNBV. “Likewise, we have a company that represents us across Latin America, and we work with the in-market reps in Brazil, Colombia, Panama, and Mexico. Their headquarters office is in Florida, but our reps are not in Florida, they are in the stated markets.” Further, since the scope of work involves working with media, travel agents and other officials on the ground within these and other overseas markets to promote Nevada as a destination, “representatives must have an intimate knowledge of the culture in those markets — and of course, be fluent in those languages.” “The governor is quite right that Nevada agencies have a better understanding of Nevada, but in the case of international representation, the most important factor is having an understanding of the international market,” Drysdale stated. “An ideal scenario would be a Nevada marketing agency that lives and works in those international markets, but until that happens, we must seek the best firms in those markets to represent us.” In other Board of Examiners news In addition, Public Works Administrator Ward Patrick was asked for a better explanation of how the state vets proposed leases to ensure Nevada isn't paying too much to landlords. That issue came up in reviewing a $9.5 million lease for office space to accommodate Welfare and Supportive Services in Las Vegas. Sisolak said he wants to understand how proposed leases are evaluated. The governor was told the lease in this case is a 10-year lease and was negotiated to include furniture, fixtures and equipment as well as improvements in the office space. Patrick said he would get the governor an analysis of the process which he said uses market analysis and in-house staff as well as a broker representing the state. Finally, the board approved an extension of the “critical shortage” designation for the Capitol Police, allowing it to hire retirees to fill positions while still letting them collect their PERS retirement. Public Safety Director George Togliotti said the agency is still having serious problems getting and keeping officers because of issues including lower pay than other officers. He referenced legislation now pending before the Legislature that would remedy much of that and other problems. AB143 would raise Capitol Police pay and benefits to match that received by the Nevada Highway Patrol. Sierra Nevada Media Group Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.


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