Canadian delegates look to promote trade ties with Northern Nevada |

Canadian delegates look to promote trade ties with Northern Nevada

Canada Connects panelists gathered Feb. 14 in Reno at Grand Sierra Resort. Panelists are, from left, Tom Ruth, president/CEO Edmonton International Airport; Mark F. Landers, CEO/president of SpecTIR in Reno; Jordan Cicoria, managing director of Alberta-based Aerium Analytics; and Mark D. Anderson, director, Nevada Industry Excellence. Nathan Strong, of the Churchill Economic Development Authority, moderated the discussion.

RENO, Nev. — A delegation of about 70 business and industry leaders from Alberta, Canada, put their heads together with similarly connected Nevadans recently during a three-day "Canada Connects" trade mission in Reno and Las Vegas.

"The goal is to come and learn what Nevada has done with technological innovations … and what the state has done to diversify," Brock W. Harrison, vice president of operations for Alberta Enterprise Group (AEG), one of the organizers of the event, explained to the Northern Nevada Business Weekly after the mission's Feb. 14 gathering at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. "There are a lot of similarities between Alberta and Nevada."

Like Reno and Las Vegas in Nevada, Canada's Alberta province as two major urban centers — Edmonton in the north and Calgary in the south. Between the two cities, many small towns are scattered amid wide open spaces.

One industry has historically dominated the two jurisdictions, leaving each more susceptible to economic downturns. While Nevada has been recognized as a gaming, tourism and hospitality state, Alberta has been known for its energy and oil exports.

Both Nevada and Alberta are finding economic diversification through technology and manufacturing, Canadian officials acknowledged on Feb. 14. Both have legislation in place requiring that renewable energy sources — like geothermal, solar and wind — replace fossil fuels.

In 2016, Nevada exceeded its goal of 20 percent renewables by 2019 and is expected to bypass 25 percent long before the 2025 mandate. Alberta must divest of all coal-generated energy by 2030.

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Jennifer Taylor, former executive director of the Clean Energy Project now working with AEG, said that one of three companies selected to partner with Alberta is Enel Green Energy North America, which has two alternative energy plants in Northern Nevada's Churchill County.

"They (Alberta) will learn how to move off imported fossil fuels into renewables," she said in an interview with the Lahontan Valley News.

Such cooperative agreements are the goal of "Canada Connects: Nevada."

"We want to have a healthy dialogue and see what we can share with them and they can share with us," said Nathan Strong, executive director of Churchill Economic Development Authority (CEDA). "The end game is to further investments."

Canada Connects delegates have previously traveled to Washington, D.C., Switzerland, and other Canadian provinces to promote trade ties and learn about opportunities in other countries.

The group represents experts from scores of business sectors, including oil and gas, energy, consulting firms such as public relations, Edmonton International Airport, real estate development, insurance, telecommunications, and disaster recovery, among others.

The Feb. 14-17 Nevada visit marked their first trade mission to the Silver State. The delegation spent a day and a half in Reno, capped by visits to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center and a tour of the Tesla Gigafactory, and then the last leg of the trip in Southern Nevada, which included attending the Edmonton Oilers vs. Vegas Golden Knights NHL game (the Knights won, 4-1).

Harrison said AEG is looking at making Canada Connects with Nevada an annual event — scheduled around hockey — considering Canadian businesses already have a big presence here, including operations along the Las Vegas Strip.

"West Jet, which is based out of Alberta, is the largest international carrier that goes into McCarran (International Airport)," Taylor added. "Canada has a lot of presence in Northern Nevada with the mining industry into Elko."

Both Alberta and Nevada trade billions of dollars of goods to each other, and,said Taylor, 82,800 jobs in Nevada depend on trade and investment with Canada.

"They are a key piece of our economy in the state," she said.

Steve Ranson, Editor Emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News, contributed to this story.

Learn more

Since 2007, the Alberta Enterprise Group has organized a series of trade missions called Canada Connects aimed at promoting trade ties with jurisdictions around the world, learning about the challenges and opportunities in other markets, and exposing Alberta businesses to investment and partnership opportunities. Visit to learn more about Canada Connects: Nevada.