Conference to address business growth, diversity in Nevada

Nevada politicians are looking to out-of-state business and education leaders to identify industries that will help stimulate new business growth and promote economic diversification within the state.

They’re holding a conference today at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to explore opportunities to diversify Nevada’s economy by examining similar efforts in nearby states.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford and Assembly Speaker John Oceguera will hear from leaders in energy, gaming and business at “Nevada 2.0: New Economies for a Sustainable Future.”

Registration for the conference is closed, but the event can be viewed online through live streaming at

The conference is bringing business leaders from Denver, Dallas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City to talk about how they developed a broad-based economy in their respective cities.

“Out of this recession, you should start building capacity and putting legislation in place like these other Intermountain West states,” said Rob Lang, director of Brookings MountainWest at UNLV and the organizer of the event.

Lang said it is hoped the conference will result in a series of short- and long-term steps to diversify Nevada’s economy beyond gaming and hospitality, which he admits always are going to be the primary economic drivers in Southern Nevada.

He wants to start a bigger conversation that will help Nevada outline strategic investments and policy changes to develop and sustain a vastly more diversified state economy.

How did Denver overcome the early 1980s recession after the energy bust? How did Dallas use its airport to become a global city? What did Utah do to attract technology firms?

“You hire people who work in these strategic areas,” Lang said. “If you don’t invest in some real capacity, you don’t have any winners in technology. You can wait for people to show up, but that’s not what other states are doing. They took academic faculty from UNLV. They’re going after engineers from Reno.”

Utah organized a venture capital network along the lines of the “angel networks” in California’s technology-laden Silicon Valley, Lang said.

“That’s how venture capital flows into the economy. People who got rich off Google end up with millions of dollars and invest it back into these companies,” he said. “They invest in start-up companies and provide the seed money to help new technology come to the market. They are comprised of wealthy investors who are willing to take big risks in exchange for big potential payoffs.”

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at or 702-383-0491.

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