- Associated Press - Monday, June 22, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is planning a trade mission to Europe later this summer with stops in Ireland, England, Poland, Germany and Italy.

State economic development officials said the trip, which is scheduled for July 18-Aug. 2, is aimed at educating foreign business, education and political leaders about opportunities in Nevada.

“Most companies in the U.S. are familiar with Nevada. You don’t have to explain where it is and that we’re not just the Strip,” said Steve Hill of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “By going places that don’t necessarily pay much attention to Nevada at all …. It’s the starting point to opening their eyes about the opportunity.”

The focus of the upcoming trip will be on spurring the advanced manufacturing, water technology, mining, information technology and hospitality industries.

Hill said about 60 or 70 people will be part of the Nevada delegation, including business and higher education officials who are paying their own way.

The cost of sending the governor, his staff and economic development officials is projected to be $150,000 to $175,000, which will be paid from the economic development office’s budget and supplemented by private donations through the nonprofit Success Nevada.

Sandoval’s past trade missions have included trips to Mexico, Canada, China and Israel. The Israel trip included a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although Hill said plans to meet with dignitaries in Europe are not finalized yet.

“Having the governor go opens doors that would be hard to open if he wasn’t there,” Hill said.

Hill said past trade missions have helped Nevada attract businesses, have helped companies seal deals with new clients and have touched off partnerships between higher education institutions in Nevada and abroad. He said he expects a half-dozen or so announcements to come out of the Europe trip.

While Sandoval has taken the trips about once a year and governors in most other states have trips planned, Hill said there were decades when Nevada representatives weren’t taking trade missions at all, and state officials now have to reintroduce Nevada to business leaders abroad.

“There wasn’t an urgency to do a thorough job of economic development” when the economy was doing well, Hill said. But when unemployment hit 14 percent, “we thought, ‘Hey we need to do economic development.”

There’s also been a tendency to avoid the trips because of the perception that they’re “a junket instead of work,” Hill said. But he defended the excursions as valuable opportunities to broaden the state’s economy.

“To not do it would be to close Nevada’s market down to just a domestic market,” he said.

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