By Carol Radice
From the May/June 2022 Issue
Often the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Nevada is, well, gambling. While it’s true the state has long been known for its larger-than-life entertainment and gaming options, the state’s healthy and vibrant economy means it is also a place more and more businesses are flocking to.
In addition to tourism the state is readily attracting industries such as aerospace and defense, agriculture, health, information technology, manufacturing and logistics, mining and natural resource technologies.
And, if recent performance is an accurate barometer all signs are pointing to continued long term growth for the state’s economy. According to Federal Funds Information for States’ Index of State Economic Momentum, Nevada is currently ranked number one for the state with best economic momentum. FFIS ranks states based on most recent performance in three key measures of economic vitality—personal income growth, employment growth, and population growth.
“Nevada’s economy is strong and on the right track,” said Governor Steve Sisolak. “State Policy Reports’ ranking is another key indicator that Nevada is not only a great place to live but a great place to be in business. Across all agencies, we are laser focused on creating opportunities for Nevadans.”
Just 19 states exceed the national economic performance in this update. Nevada beat out Texas and Florida. Nevada is by far the leading state in employment change, beating out Hawaii and California. Nevada’s employment increased 9.7 percent over the past year compared to the national average of 4.7 percent.
During this time, Nevada’s personal income grew by 10.2 percent, slightly behind Florida and Texas at 10.3 percent. Its annual population growth is at 1 percent compared to the national average of 0.12 percent. Nevada’s unemployment rate is 5.1 percent, compared to the national average of 3.8 percent.
Diversifying Nevada’s Economy
This spring, Governor Sisolak announced the launch of a first-ever nationally ranked small business and startup accelerator to operate in Nevada. Run by gener8tor, the accelerators will be in Las Vegas and Reno-Tahoe to provide investment, support, mentorship, and access to in-state and out-of-state capital to early-stage small businesses and startups throughout Nevada.
Alongside Nevada’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program, gener8tor Las Vegas and gener8tor Reno-Tahoe will invest in and accelerate at least 10 small businesses and startups per year. These Nevada companies will experience a program focused on mentorship, customer discovery, creating value for consumers and communities, strategic planning for company growth, individualized coaching, and pitch meetings with investors in Nevada and across the country.
Startups and small businesses that successfully compete for a place in the accelerator will receive $100,000 investments from gener8tor’s venture fund and, subject to federal approval, from Nevada’s federal SSBCI funds. In addition, each accelerator will hold free, in-person and virtual programming and office hours throughout the year for any interested startups and small businesses.
“The accelerators we are launching today with gener8tor will diversify Nevada’s economic development system by investing in home-grown innovation and ensuring businesses survive and thrive here in Nevada,” said Sisolak. “Accelerators anchored in Las Vegas and Reno will provide a pathway for more businesses owned by founders from disadvantaged backgrounds to access the capital and mentorship needed to level the playing field and make certain Nevada is an economic powerhouse for generations to come.”
According to Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, the city has more than 1,200 startups, all of which are “critical to the present and future of our city’s economy,” she said. “The city has been a leader in creating a startup ecosystem that is among the best in the nation through our International Innovation Centers @Vegas, and the steps we are taking with gener8tor and our partners will continue what we have started.”
Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve has been a longtime proponent for making Reno a tech hub for entrepreneurs and companies because she understood how critical it can be to the economic viability of a city. “Hearing that a top-ranked accelerator will be investing in and accelerating companies in Reno shows the world what our community has known for a while—Reno has arrived, and we will welcome the innovators and those with a dream who want to start their businesses here,” said Schieve.
Gener8tor Co-Founders Joe Kirgues and Troy Vosseller said much thought went into where they would locate their business and Nevada stood out. “We want to empower communities in Northern and Southern Nevada to invest in their best and brightest,” said Kirgues. “We will bring our focus on investing across race, place, and gender along with a national network of companies, investors, and relationships to Nevada to incentivize companies to start here, hire here, and stay here.”
“This is a groundbreaking next step in the evolution of the Nevada’s State Venture Capital Program under the federal SSBCI,” said Karsten Heise, Director of Strategic Programs and SSBCI Program Administrator at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). “Gener8tor Las Vegas and gener8tor Reno accelerators will be funded with recycled dollars from the first version of SSBCI, a federal program created in 2010 and still being operated by GOED.”
The second version of SSBCI which GOED as the designated state agency has just submitted its application will—subject to approval by the U.S. Department of Treasury—allow the State to invest millions more in federal funds, alongside private funds, into Nevada small businesses and startups through a venture capital program, including into companies that participate in these two new Nevada accelerators.