Making the right connections |

Making the right connections

Tom Matter, Chris Howard

Local small business owners and start-up companies will have successful northern Nevada business professionals and experts to call on for help with questions pertaining to their company, thanks to Nevada Connectors, a new online business program launched this week.

A joint venture between the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada and the University of Nevada, Reno, College of Business, Nevada Connectors provides a professional network of regional experts for entrepreneurs and small businesses in one convenient online forum at The professional “connectors” are designed to be a first contact for entrepreneurs and small business owners who have specific questions or issues that are impacting their business and are in need of solutions. The service is unique to the northern Nevada region. The goal of Nevada Connectors is to provide a streamlined system for small businesses and start-up companies to access for prompt, high-level resolution to their questions.

How does the Nevada Connectors program work? The beauty is it’s a simple, straightforward process which is important to companies looking for assistance. A business owner simply visits the Web site ( and submits a specific question. Their question is approved and forwarded to the Nevada Connectors, a diverse group of successful individuals including chief executive officers, chief operating officers, successful entrepreneurs, executives, patent attorneys, accountants, business owners, bank presidents and others. A “connector” with pertinent expertise will accept the question and contact the individual to arrange a meeting. The individual and the connector will meet and come to a resolution for their specific issue. We envision questions ranging from operational analysis and strategic planning, to supply chain management, marketing, human resources and everything in between. The vast expertise of the Nevada Connectors will allow us to help small businesses in a variety of areas.

The connectors realize that sharing their experience and expertise can be vital to both growing and diversifying our local economy. The group of individuals participating in the program has agreed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners find solutions to their specific questions or issues. EDAWN is continuously approached by local business leaders expressing their interest to help grow our economy and the Nevada Connectors offers a forum for them to actively and directly assist companies without having to provide a long-term mentorship.

The Nevada Connectors include Dave Archer, Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology; Paul Deyhle, McDonald Carano Wilson LLP; Stuart Feigin, Northstar Investors Corp.; Ky Good, C4Cube; Trent Gordon, Optimum Strategy Group; Li Han Chan, Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization (NIREC); Alice Heiman, Alice Heiman, LLC; Ben Kennedy, Jones Vargas; Stephanie Kruse, KPS3 Marketing; Russ Romine, Griffin Global Logistics; Randolph Townsend, Northstar Investors Corp.; Patty Wade, Wade Development; Matt Westfield, Start-up Growth Strategies; Denny Williams, Mutual of Omaha Bank; and Dusty Wunderlich, Optimum Strategy Group, among others.

The program is a way for northern Nevada to send an important message to the management of prospective new companies that we value and recognize the importance of education to their business and personal well-being by providing a network of industry leader experience at their fingertips. The integration of private and public sector resources will leverage regional efforts to attract the type of businesses that add value to our community both socially and economically, and support the growth of existing start-ups that may otherwise languish due to a lack of resources.

In addition to being a tool for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and prospective companies considering northern Nevada for their business, students enrolled in the entrepreneurship course at UNR can utilize the Nevada Connectors program to land an internship.

Statistics from the Edward Lowe Foundation show that between 2000 and 2008 start-up companies and small businesses nationally added more than 16 million jobs to the local economies where they were headquartered while large companies and companies with headquarters outside of that specific region actually eliminated more than 12 million jobs. These figures alone show that a region, such as northern Nevada, can only grow and diversify its economy through the successful growth and start up of small businesses. The formation of the Nevada Connectors is intended to nurture that economic growth and add more of the skilled, knowledge-based jobs our region is looking to create.

Tom Matter is out-of-market business development manager for the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. Chris Howard is director of the entrepreneurship initiative for the University of Nevada, Reno, College of Business.