Sandoval announces trade missions to Mexico, Israel

Building on his hands-on approach to bolstering Nevada's economic development efforts, Gov. Brian Sandoval said Friday he will head out on trade missions to Mexico and Israel to drum up more business for a state climbing out of economic doldrums.

Sandoval dropped the trade mission news into his speech at the annual luncheon of the newly renamed Las Vegas Regional Economic Development Council - formerly the Nevada Development Authority - to an audience of about 800 at Bellagio. Sandoval made similar trade missions to China and South Korea in September.

In an interview after his speech, Sandoval said the Mexico mission is in response to overtures by Latin American business leaders to the governor's office about investment opportunities in Mexico and other Latin American markets.

No dates for the trade trips have been set.

Nevada can build trade partnerships with two states in Mexico in potential areas of manufacturing, mining and agriculture, said Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. Hill declined to mention the two Mexican states, but noted Nevada and Mexico already have business partnerships.

"Mexico is a natural fit," Hill said. "We already do a lot of business."

Regarding Israel, Sandoval will head there because there are potential economic partnerships on two fronts, Hill said.

First, Israel is seeking business ties in Nevada to expand its information technology sector, he said.

And, as Sandoval noted, Nevada and Israel have a common interest in seeking potential business partnerships focused on ways to use water more efficiently in an arid environment, Hill said.

The globetrotting approach to economic development in Nevada makes sense because Las Vegas is already an international tourist destination, said Tom Skancke, the new president of the nonprofit Las Vegas Regional Economic Development Council.

"We need to go around the world and sell Las Vegas as a business destination," said Skancke, a former transportation consultant.

In outlining recent improvements in Nevada's economy, the Republican governor cited collaboration involving the city of Las Vegas, state economic development officials and representatives of that stopped the online travel company from leaving the Las Vegas Valley. and its 500 call-center employees in Summerlin were set to leave the area at the end of its building lease, but decided to stay after state and local economic development officials brokered a deal to keep them here, Hill said.

Terms of the deal that kept Expedia in Nevada were unavailable Friday.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at or 702-387-5273.