Guest column:

International development contract opportunities for Nevada companies

You may not think economic development overseas would ripple in Las Vegas, but it can.

International development means revenue for U.S. businesses when project contracts are awarded to American companies.

Since becoming an independent agency in 1988, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and its predecessor organizations have connected American businesses to international economic development contracts. Such contracts often are for infrastructure projects in emerging economies, most often in transportation, energy, telecommunications, water and environment.

Examples include more than $2 billion in contracts awarded to U.S. firms to upgrade the Cartagena Refinery in Colombia and more than $10 million in sales of U.S. equipment for the modernization of the Mexican transportation system.

In effect, USTDA generates business for U.S. companies by getting involved early in the planning process for projects, providing technical advice to the sponsoring foreign government agency or organization.

The agency’s Project Development Program does this by supporting feasibility studies, technical assistance and pilot projects. Examples include grants for feasibility studies (Brazil), regulatory framework development (Mexico) and system design (Colombia) for implementing smart grid technologies for power transmission. Other grants support studies on the introduction of intelligent transportation system technologies.

Once planning is in place, the USTDA’s International Business Partnership Program can bring key decision makers to the United States on reverse trade missions. In 2014, for example, the program supported visits by Brazilian government and private-sector representatives seeking information on U.S. rail technologies, standards and capabilities.

Visitors learn by observing design, manufacturing and operations of relevant U.S. products and services. At the same time, they establish connections with potential U.S. contractors, which often blossom into work orders and ongoing relationships. USTDA also directly hires U.S. contractors, predominantly small businesses, for technical analyses and feasibility studies conducted through its Project Development Program.

On April 22, the USTDA’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean will visit Las Vegas to explain these programs, opportunities the agency offers and how Nevada businesses can take advantage of them.

Businesses and companies can register for the presentation by contacting Anna Drury at [email protected] or 702-895-3608.

Mel Jameson is director of international initiatives and a professor of finance in the Lee Business School at UNLV.

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