Businesses Continue To Find Southern Nevada To Their Liking

The biotech business is developing a prototype of an imaging device that can help doctors diagnose internal injuries without slicing open patients. The Air Force and the Department of Defense have contracted with Noninvasive Medical Technologies to create versions of the tool for battlefield use; two private companies also have deals to sell the product for commercial applications.

Until last year, the company conducted its research and development from headquarters in Auburn, Mich. But the drive for a more business-friendly environment sent company executives on a search of a new corporate home. After considering cities in California and Utah, they chose Las Vegas as the site of their new base.

"Across the continuum, Nevada simply outranked the other states with its tax advantages and the worker pool," said Ronald McCaughan, president of Noninvasive Medical Technologies. McCaughan said the temperate climate and recreational parks around the city nudged his company toward Las Vegas. And a few incentives from the Nevada Commission on Economic Development, including a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $50,000 for employee training, also proved attractive.

Noninvasive Medical Technologies is among the new businesses the Nevada Development Authority recruited to Southern Nevada in the first six months of fiscal 2006, which began July 1. By Jan. 1, the economic development agency had assisted 31 businesses in moving or expanding to the Las Vegas area, up from 19 businesses in the first half of fiscal 2005. This year's total also puts the authority on pace to surpass results for all of fiscal 2005, when 46 new businesses tapped the authority's assistance to set up shop here.

The authority has tracked 11 headquarters relocations in the first half the year, already an increase over fiscal 2005's total of eight relocations.

Somer Hollingsworth, president and chief executive officer of the Nevada Development Authority, said the organization's marketing initiatives in California are a big factor behind this year's numbers. The billboards and ads the authority bought last year in the Golden State took not-so-subtle gibes at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and generated nationwide publicity, in the process raising awareness of Nevada as a business destination, Hollingsworth said.

Also, Hollingsworth said, with the country's economy growing, businesses around the nation are looking to expand. High population growth in the West and Southwest also means companies are interested in opening Western divisions to serve residents.

"Businesses looking for a place to move begin to shop around and find that Nevada and Las Vegas have a tendency to be great places to be," Hollingsworth said. "With California, we're next door to the largest market in the United States and the fifth-largest economy in the world, yet companies have all the benefits and protection of Nevada corporate law, a very pro-business government and a business-friendly attitude on the local level."

Because of rising land prices and real estate rent rates, gone is a previous emphasis on recruiting manufacturing and distribution operations. Rather, the authority is seeking businesses in life sciences, technology, transportation and renewable energy.

"We're concentrating on companies that pay a really good wage and that give good benefits," Hollingsworth said.

At Noninvasive Medical Technologies, the 15-worker job base is heavy on high-skills positions.

McCaughan said the company pays annual salaries of $60,000 and up for engineers who can support prototype development. The company brought three employees from its Michigan headquarters and has hired the rest from Southern Nevada, including four engineers in specialties, including mechanical design and signal integration. McCaughan said his company has had no trouble finding qualified employees locally, though he regularly hears from job applicants in California, Washington, Utah and other regional states looking to move to Southern Nevada for "quality of life issues," he said.

"Growth happens for a reason. It's not accidental," said McCaughan, who expects to grow his company to about 50 local employees by the end of 2006. "One year of growth might be an accident, but not three years, four years or 10 years of growth. The business climate here is very positive, our banking relationships are fantastic and the incentives we were offered were on-point and real. We have found the quality of life here to be superior to anyplace we've been."

Jan. 27, 2006
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Ann McCaughan, Chief Operating Officer of Noninvasive Medical Technologies, shows the company's new hemodynamic monitor and fluid status monitor. The company is new to Las Vegas. Photo by K.M. Cannon

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