NCET Biz Tips: Tapping into global intel to grow local business

Stacy Kinion

Stacy Kinion

Reno is a small town. It is one of its charms … but the Biggest Little City is a lot bigger than you may think. In fact, it holds a lot of opportunity — both local and global — for companies looking to grow.

At the University of Nevada, Reno’s Northern Nevada International Center (NNIC), a nonprofit leading Northern Nevada’s global engagement, my team designs professional exchanges that share what our region has to offer to those visiting through United States Department of State-sponsored programs.

In my role as associate director of international exchanges, I have seen many businesses augment operations by incorporating more diversity–and subsequent increases in revenue. I wish more local businesses knew how to access the opportunities NNIC brings to our community in order to improve business practices and bolster revenues.

“Going Global” doesn’t necessarily mean expanding your offerings so that everyone has access regardless of where they purchase. Harnessing global intel in order to grow Northern Nevada businesses is a lot easier, especially when we recognize what activities will further endear internal and external audiences to us.

Double your target market and turn up consideration for constituents by speaking their language.

In 2021, NNIC revealed findings from research made possible by the Gateways for Growth grant (funded by the New American Economy and Welcoming America). These findings substantiate that local consumers continue to diversify. In 2019, immigrants made up nearly 14% of the population and represented nearly $447 million in taxes paid. 

They wield nearly $2 billion in spending power and, within Washoe County, contributed $4.1 million to the county’s gross domestic product (GDP). When compared to 2017 data, this represents growth for the state, and we hypothesize this growth held steady in 2020 and 2021.
Companies who effectively market to immigrants will ensure they keep lead generation healthy while attracting and retaining consumers. Often, this means incorporating translation and interpretation efforts. Companies should seek to make internal conversations and materials accessible to more than just our English-speaking populations. They should also strive to translate marketing materials for these populations, given their immense purchasing power in the county and state.

Diversification in the workforce adds perspective, intelligence and security for your teams.
The Gateways for Growth data represents purchasing power, and also shows that we have a diverse workforce in our region, helpful during the pinch of the Great Resignation. These individuals harbor a wealth of expertise and unique experience that companies can integrate, and use to inform marketing efforts.

Those who have professional experience abroad also represent best practices implemented in other corners of the globe, which can help companies further refine their value proposition and gain competitive advantages.
Through our Language Bank operations, NNIC has worked with several companies who incorporate interpretation and translation services to help new recruits whose first language is not English quickly get their feet underneath them. We often find these new hires value a company that quickly demonstrates its value in them. Through our refugee resettlement efforts, we know well that new community members are looking to immerse themselves in American culture, which means that those companies who hire immigrants are playing a critical role in welcoming our new neighbors.

Additionally, expanding the team can often be a critical lever in retention rates of existing staff. In an article published by McKinsey Health Institute, authors cite that burnout correlates attrition, absenteeism, lower engagement and decreased productivity. The article states, “when asked about aspects of their jobs that undermine their mental health and well-being, employees frequently cite the feelings of always being on call, unfair treatment, unreasonable workload, low autonomy and lack of social support.” Put another way, asking our teams to do more with less will lead to far more financial risks for corporate entities - but record numbers of employee turnover compromise the building of a healthy team.
Bring the world to you, give your brand global wings.

I have the unique pleasure of working with international exchange programs at NNIC.
These programs bring participants who are selected for their intellect and expertise to meet with their counterparts in Reno to share best practices and alternate methodologies, as well as to expand each party’s network. Meeting these international professionals builds relationships that span careers and can be a catalyst for introducing or cementing companies in foreign markets.

Hub Roasters got the chance to vertically integrate. Hub Roasters’ Mark Trujillo mentored a young coffee entrepreneur through the 2016 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative. After the program, he went to Colombia to tour operations, and elected to purchase three coffee bean farms in a move that allows for some vertical integration and huge differentiation in the marketplace.

A Reno org helped craft policy in Nigeria. David Anyele came from Nigeria through an NNIC-orchestrated International Visitor Leadership Program and, during his time in Reno, met with Jack Mayes, the executive director of the Nevada Disability Advocacy and Law Center. Mayes shared language for laws on disabilities that Anyele took back to Nigeria where it eventually became law.

The Discovery is teaching Algerian youth best practices in exploratory learning. The team at Reno’s Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum regularly shares best practices for hand-on learning with participants of the annual Algerian Youth Leadership Program (AYLP). After his visit to The Discovery, 2017 AYLP alumnus Rafik Amrani founded Beyond Tekhmamek, an organization that offers low-cost and free STEM and soft-skills classes to K-12 students in Algiers. Since the inception of the organization (and despite a global pandemic), his organization has given classes to more than 10,000 Algerian youth, all of whom have some of The Discovery’s DNA rooted in their newly-gained skills.

The Republic of Korea is coming to Reno to help tackle climate change. The Biden administration recently launched what’s called the U.S.-Korea Youth Climate Activist Exchange Program. At the close of August, budding climate professionals from the U.S. and ROK toured organizations like the Desert Research Institute, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and the Nevada Governor’s Office for Energy, to learn best practices and connect with other professionals to investigate more solutions to the globe’s climate challenges.

In fact, Northern Nevada International Center is the third largest organization (by dollars spent annually) of its type in the United States and this positively impacts not only how delegates from other countries view the business and other opportunities in northern Nevada, but also our local economy. Internal data suggests that, for each visitor to our area, about $1,000 a week is injected into our local economy.

While these numbers demonstrate our community financially benefits from international exchanges, they also demonstrate that local companies, entrepreneurs and organizations are being perceived by international visitors as thought leaders and pioneers of industry. Companies have the chance to put their brand and their best practices in front of budding or established leaders from other countries, which often leads to contacts and contracts for these companies.

Businesses and organizations in northern Nevada have much to gain by opening their doors to diverse workers and visitors. If NNIC can help you plot the way forward, we are happy to do so.

Learn about Globalizing Your Reno Operations (Sans Airfare) at NCET’s Biz Café on September 21st. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. More info at

Stacy Kinion is the associate director of international exchange programs at Northern Nevada International Center. Learn more about how your organization can get involved with international exchanges and exchange delegations visiting Reno and how to get involved at



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