Nevada Grow mines data to help small businesses thrive

Las Vegas Sun

Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-Las Vegas, shown during the 2013 Legislature, advocates a program to provide small-business owners with technical assistance and strategic research.

A pilot program that began in 2015, made permanent by the Nevada Legislature this year, continues to help small businesses grow.

Nevada Grow provides small-business owners who are looking to expand with technical assistance and strategic research. Assembly Bill 94, sponsored by Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-Las Vegas, was signed into law on June 8.

“Most businesses don't know what they need,” Neal said on Wednesday at an event to promote the program. “We do an assessment about what they have going on, what type of business model they have. We tell them about the data and how it could help them figure out who's in the neighborhood and what the saturation of area is.”

This allows business owners to customize their plan to fit what is in demand in their given area, she said. The College of Southern Nevada, the Clark County Business Department, the Urban and Latin Chambers of Commerce and the Nevada Small Business Development Centers in Clark and Washoe counties are program partners.

The hardest-hit businesses during the Great Recession were the local, independently owned small businesses, Neal said, and something had to be done to help those owners out.

“We needed a shift for our homegrown businesses to harness their strength to move them and empower them so they could be the drivers of our economy in Nevada,” she said. “That’s one of the main goals of Nevada Grow.”

Customized data and strategic research that the program provides to small businesses will help drive the state's economic development, Neal said.

Nevada Grow has subscriptions to two databases, Esri and Emsi, which cost a total of about $19,000 annually. A geographic information systems specialist mines data to help businesses.

Since 2015, the program has helped 43 businesses; at least 25 more have signed up for Nevada Grow since early September. Qualifying businesses must be based in Nevada, have fewer than 50 employees and generate at least $50,000 in annual gross revenue.

Company representatives are required to attend training classes, indicate their business needs and provide data to the program’s staff to evaluate. The program also offers peer-learning opportunities and mentoring.

Medin Gebrezgier, owner of the sports apparel company Revive Brand Co., credited the program with providing his company the platform to expand.

“I needed money to start my business, and I needed money to grow,” Gebrezgier said. “Data … is absolutely crucial. It’s your GPS; it’s your map to everything to make sure you’re successful.”

Gebrezgier recalled a time when he applied for a loan and he didn't have an answer to a banker’s question. With the data provided by Nevada Grow, he can now provide bankers and others a more precise business plan, he said.

“If I get all the information I need and know who my customers are and the products they want, I can tailor it to them,” he said. “It’s absolutely changed my business, and Nevada Grow has helped me a ton.”

Interested parties can visit CSN’s workforce development site for more information on Nevada Grow.