Nevada builds on economic ties to China
Updated: 2014-12-26 07:04
By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York(China Daily USA)
Nevada was an early US pioneer in exploring economic ties with China when it became the first state 10 years ago to open a state-licensed tourism office in the Chinese mainland.
Nevada Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki said Nevada now has tourism offices in Beijing and Shanghai, and he believes it has paid off for the state.
"About 10 years ago there were maybe 100,000-200,000 visas issued to the Chinese," Krolicki said. "There were over 1.8 million visas issued in 2013, and now with the new 10-year visas, many more Chinese tourists will be coming to the US and Nevada," he told China Daily.
To mark that, the state recently signed an expanded memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China.
"This further develops what already is an expanding relationship with China," said Krolicki, who signed the MOU on behalf of the Silver State last month.
"This MOU opens the door wider in three key areas: new investment by Chinese enterprises in Nevada, assisting Nevada entrepreneurs to gain more access to Chinese markets and encouraging more interaction between trade development offices, colleges, tourism bureaus, chambers of commerce, trade associations and government agencies."
More than 52 million people visit Nevada each year, and Krolicki acknowledges that the Las Vegas Strip with its casinos and entertainment shows is a main attraction to not only the Chinese, but other tourists. What isn't well known, he said, are other attractions that help drive Nevada's tourism trade.
"We have excellent skiing in the north, and rural Nevada is really a living storybook of the old Wild West that has been intriguing the Chinese for years," Krolicki said.
Krolicki said he is excited about other economic opportunities that can be developed under the MOU.
"We are strategically located to over 70 million people in the western US," he said. "This makes Nevada an ideal location for warehousing or logistics. We are the largest producer of solar power (per capita). We have a strong history and still maintain a preeminent role in mining. I see no reason why Chinese companies can't find opportunities here."
Nevada was hit particularly hard by the housing downturn in the US, and it is among the slowest-recovering states from the recession of 2008. That's another incentive for the state to explore foreign trade and investment.
In September, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval led a trade mission to China and South Korea that included representatives of Nevada businesses.
"The September Trade Mission to China and South Korea is expected to accelerate Nevada's economic development and diversification efforts by growing the market for our state's exports, while attracting investment in Nevada's promising target industries," Sandoval said in a statement.
According to the state, Nevada firms sold $8 billion worth of goods overseas in 2011, with $1.3 billion of that going to Asian customers.
In March, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA), a non-profit organization visited Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and other cities.
"When you travel around the world and you tell people you're from Las Vegas, they know Las Vegas as a global tourism destination. What our organization is charged with doing is informing the world we are a global business destination," Tom Skancke, president and CEO of LVGEA, told China Daily.
Meanwhile, Krolicki will be leaving the state's No 2 post early next month because of term limits.
"I intend to look at the private opportunities that will be out there," he said. "But I will always maintain a connection with China. I think Nevada has had and will maintain a unique relationship with the Chinese and I hope to be a part of that."