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COMMENTARY: Global ties crucial to Nevada security, economy

From Venezuela to Iran to North Korea, the world seems smaller than ever before as international crises dominate our headlines here at home. And America’s security and prosperity are inherently linked to the rest of the world.

After 30 years in public service — including 10 years as Nevada’s governor — I know that America’s global ties not only impact the future of our country, but the future of jobs and the security of our families and communities here in Nevada. Key to building these connections are America’s diplomats and development workers, engaging to advance our country’s interests and yield economic prosperity back home.

In 2018, Nevada companies exported more than $11 billion in goods and services to markets overseas — an 81 percent increase in exports compared to just 10 years ago. And international trade generates revenue for our state’s top employers, meaning more jobs right in our communities. From gold and precious metals to electronics and gaming equipment, our exports support more than 308,000 Nevadans and their families in jobs that typically pay higher than the national average.

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States, the future of Nevada’s economy relies on expanding our position in the global marketplace. Rapidly growing economies across Africa and Asia present new opportunities for Nevada businesses.

But we have to get a foot in the door — and that’s where our diplomats and development workers come in.

These civilians help break down barriers to economic growth, providing a hand-up and transforming emerging economies into viable new markets for American businesses. Not only is this a win for Nevada, it also improves the lives of people worldwide.

And that’s not all. The partnerships that our diplomats and development workers build with other countries also open the door for new opportunities in Nevada — especially when it comes to tourism and economic development. During my tenure as governor, these connections were particularly useful on trade missions where I met with airline carriers interested in opening direct routes to McCarran International Airport and with business leaders looking to set up operations and invest in our state.

Since my time in office, state leaders have continued to use these connections to generate impressive results: International tourism is on the rise, as is foreign direct investment. More than 500 foreign companies — including Ikea, Sony, Nestlé and Unilever — now have operations in Nevada, adding thousands of jobs to our workforce and much-needed revenue to our economy.

Diplomats and development workers don’t just help advance our economic interests, they also play a pivotal role in our national security. The partnerships between our civilian agencies and our armed forces are critical to keeping our country safe. In complex environments, our civilian forces are the first line of defense to stabilize fragile communities and resolve conflicts, allowing us to keep our military men and women out of harm’s way.

Nevada’s only member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is Rep. Dina Titus who understands the importance of investing in the international affairs budget. At a mere 1 percent of the federal budget, the benefits are far greater than the costs — not only for our communities and our children, but for our nation as well.

Bob Miller served as governor of Nevada from 1989 to 1999. He currently leads Robert J. Miller Consulting and serves as the honorary consul general to Bulgaria.

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