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COMMENTARY: The grass is truly greener in Nevada

As an entrepreneur and business leader, you face countless challenges every day to just create a successful, even viable, business. Market competition, financing, industry dynamics, personnel issues and the day-to-day relentless efforts needed create hurdles for game-changing companies, services and technologies. From small retail shops and restaurants to industry-defining technology success stories, the journey is many times the same, with similar struggles needed to achieve the American Dream.

These entrepreneurs are the creators and the lifeblood of the American economic fabric. And last week’s news about Tesla looking to move operations from California got me thinking about this is a much more meaningful way.

If you could sum up an entrepreneur’s life in musical terms, you are like the kid on stage at his first piano recital. You’re brave, but still nervous — with a seemingly insurmountable task and an uncertain future ahead. “What if I screw up? What if I forget a note? What if the piano explodes and/or turns into a monster and eats me?” Then you look out and see the smiling faces of your parents and others, take a deep breath, and crush it on stage.

Imagine instead, however, that you had Rodney Dangerfield in the audience heckling you every second and blasting an air horn nonstop. Not exactly helpful. While you are tough and can likely make it through the performance, Mr. Dangerfield is a freakin’ useless pain in the neck. The smiling parent with the camera is always better.

In the business and entrepreneurial world, the regional government and regulators are your audience equivalent. They stand to benefit from what you bring. They should be supportive and encouraging — while still providing you the necessary nudge and motivation to get things done. And they should cheer loudly when you succeed. The last thing they should do is be the Dangerfield.

But in 2020, it seems as if more and more governments are feeling like “they get no respect.” And by their actions, frankly, they do not deserve any.

Many states’ political leaders have pretty much run their regional Titanics into the iceberg. It’s just a matter of time until they sink. On a daily basis, they continue to show true blindness to the engines of their historical prosperity and what gave them the now crumbling fiefdoms they gleefully rule over. As opposed to helping foster and fuel more growth, they are doing everything they can to crush it and drive it away. From ridiculous taxation policies, to anti-business measures across the board, they are acting like Rodney after eight drinks, ranting and raving at poor Timmy trying to do his best on stage.

Well, fear not, little Timmy. The auditorium down the street is better and full of happy, smiling parents who can’t wait to clap and cheer loudly. Say hello to Nevada.

Nevada is in the process of a truly fundamental economic transformation. Our technology ecosystem is booming, population centers are increasing statewide and countless skilled professionals are continuing to pour in and create opportunity and value. And, of greater importance, we have a state that actually gets it.

A pro-business framework has existed in the DNA of Nevada for years. Historically, we’ve had low regulation, zero state income tax, a strong and ever-improving infrastructure and government administrations (both Republican and Democrat) that understood diversification needed to happen. And over the past 14 years, that transformation has been occurring across the board. Silicon Valley, in particular, is starting to see and take notice. And the current governor and administration have continued that innovative path.

We launched our new tech accelerator, RNOX, this year (yes in the middle of a pandemic) because we also believe in that future. And we have already seen great results. Applications are very strong, we have, to no surprise, seen supportive state leadership and a demand for start-ups to accelerate their technology companies here that has exceeded our highest expectations.

So for all of the Elon Musks and frustrated business leaders across the country, trust me when I say the grass is truly greener in Nevada. In addition to all of the great fundamentals, you have a state full of cheering parents and few Rodney Dangerfields to be found. Unless you find an impersonator on the Strip. And even they will be cheering you on.

Shaunt Sarkissian is founder and executive chairman of RNOX, a Reno-based tech accelerator working to build diversified businesses in Northern Nevada.

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