LAS VEGAS -- Despite the economic ravages of the Great Recession there is evidence that Nevada is on the right track when it comes to pursuit of innovative businesses and the jobs that go with them.
In a report card issued in June the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that Nevada had the nation's third highest growth rate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs from 2001 through 2010. The state also had the fifth highest number of new business starts from 2006 through 2008.
Nevada also ranked 14th in the high-tech share of all businesses in 2010, 16th in small business loans per 1,000 employees in 2009, and 18th in academic research and development as a share of gross state product in 2008.
The other good news was Nevada's best-in-the-nation ranking in export value as a share of its total economy, with leading exports coming from mineral deposits, slot machines and assorted electronics.
But the chamber didn't ignore Nevada's dark economic picture either.
"Facing one of the largest budget deficits in the nation, battered property markets, and unemployment rates flirting with 15 percent, Nevada remains saddled with some of the most vexing economic challenges of any state in the nation," the chamber stated. "Signs of a turnaround have begun to emerge, with unemployment rates dropping, state revenues increasing, and signs of increased economic activity being reported in the state's large tourism and gaming industries."
The chamber stated that Nevada has done well with export growth by maintaining a network of independent trade representatives around the globe, including China, Germany, Brazil and Italy. The state also brings in foreign buyers and connects them with local companies.
Nevada also maintains foreign trade zones in Las Vegas and Reno that allow businesses access to expedited customs processing and decreased duties and excise taxes, the report stated.
On the topic of innovation, the chamber also tipped its hat to the nonprofit Nevada Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology in Reno.
"NCET sponsors entrepreneurship conferences, venture capital events, and an annual business plan competition for entrepreneurial college students, all designed to increase entrepreneurial activity, commercialization efforts and job creation in high-tech industries," the chamber stated.
The chamber also complemented the nonprofit Nevada Microenterprise Initiative, which has offices in Las Vegas and Reno. The organization estimates that 16 percent of all private, non-farm employment in Nevada is through businesses with five or fewer workers.
"The NMI offers entrepreneurs access to microloans for startup and expansion of businesses," the chamber stated. "Loans of up to $35,000 are available, along with access to entrepreneurship workshops and training course designed to help budding business people get up and running."