State looks to build on its growing success in exports
International Game Technology these days maintains 60 offices on six continents, a far cry from its humble beginnings in northern Nevada in the 1950s.
Now the state government is looking to jumpstart three small companies two of them with significant presence in northern Nevada in hopes that they can follow IGT as a big player in international markets.
IGT will be honored by the Northern Nevada International Center during its 13th annual Global Gala Friday.
The company’s global operations these days include major research and product development facilities in Australia, China and Sweden. It recently acquired mobile and online gaming companies in the United Kingdom to solidify its presence in European markets. And it increasingly views itself as global citizen that supports efforts ranging from the Food Bank of Northern Nevada to disaster relief after the Japanese earthquake of 2011.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development now has identified the first three recipients of grants that will help small businesses offset the marketing costs of entering into international markets.
EZE-Lap Diamond Products Inc., a Carson City company that makes sharpening products, won a $12,500 grant. That’s the largest available in the Nevada State Trade and Export Promotion grant program.
Tate Snyder Kimsey, an architectural firm with offices in Reno and Las Vegas, also won a $12,500 grant to begin marketing its services outside American borders.
The third of the grants went to Sable Systems International, a Las Vegas makers of metabolic measurement systems. It received $8,300.
The export-marketing assistance program, largely financed by a $239,318 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration, was slow to gain traction after its introduction in November.
Alan DiStefano, director of global business development for the state, said only a handful of small businesses applied for the grants despite marketing efforts that included personally signed letters from Gov. Brian Sandoval delivered via Federal Express to promising prospects.
He said some companies may decided it wasn’t worth the bother to seek the grants, which were limited to no more than $12,500, because they didn’t want to deal with additional paperwork and meetings.
But DiStefano said the state expects wider participation in the next round of grants, largely because it will have more time to talk with potential exporters in the state’s small business community.
The push to build export trade as a foundation of the state’s economy comes as Nevada posted a 35 percent increase in global trade during 2011.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development said exports by the state’s businesses totaled $7.98 billion last year, which compares with the previous record of $6.1 billion in 2010.
The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that every $181,000 in exports supports one job. Using that estimate, exports supported more than 44,000 jobs in the state last year, an increase of 12,000 over the 2010 level.
Exports of gold, mostly to Switzerland, accounted for about half of Nevada’s exports last year.
Other big categories include electrical machinery with $940 million in exports during 2011, copper ore with $839 million in exports, and toys, games and sporting equipment with $486 million in exports.
Along with Switzerland, the state’s biggest trading partners are, in order, Canada, China, Mexico and Japan.
The NNIC Global Gala at which International Game Technology will be recognized begins at 6 p.m. Friday at The Atlantis. For tickets, got to http://www.nnic.org and open the Events page. The registration deadline is Tuesday.
The introductory 80-hour program — announced in May as one solution to Nevada’s oft-lamented skilled labor shortages — is designed to train people in construction, building maintenance and related trades.