Bridging Nevada and Poland – A Case Study of the Transatlantic Partnership on Education, Business, and Innovation

Conversation between Przegląd Organizacji’s (Organization Review) Editor-in-chief Prof. Stanisław Brzeziński and Kristopher Sanchez, Director of International Trade in Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development
From left: Kristopher Sanchez and Stanisław Brzeziński

[S.B.] Why Poland? What is so special about our country for the State of Nevada?

[K.S] In 2015, I had the privilege of organizing a State of Nevada Trade Mission to Poland, led by Governor Brian Sandoval, in which we visited Warsaw and Krakow. The Nevada mission was historic as well, in that it was the first mission lead by a Nevada Governor to Poland in our state’s history. During the mission, we gained a deeper understanding of Polish history and had the unique opportunity to tour the Warsaw Uprising Museum with a special member of our community, George Kielak who fought in the Warsaw Uprising and subsequently, our Governor Brian Sandoval joined Mr. Kielak for the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. As someone with a deep appreciation of the lessons of history, my experiences in Poland provided me with additional perspective of what occurred during German occupation and the Communist era.

Let me emphasize the fact that Poland’s economic growth over the previous 2 decades is inspiring. I’ve worked hard over the last 6 years to strengthen Nevada’s international relations, ensuring that Nevada is prepared for the vast technological shifts occurring in key sectors such as transportation, unmanned flight, and high-tech manufacturing. And Nevada is fortunate to have 15,000 Polish immigrants as well as 40,000 people of Polish decent residing throughout the state and to have dedicated individuals like Honorary Consul John Petkus promoting business linkages between Nevada and Poland.

There is no coincidence that our Governor’s Office of Economic Development enjoys special relationship with the Polish American Chamber of Commerce of Nevada – probably the most dynamic and professionally managed Polish business organization in the United States. Let’s not forget that Nevada is also a place of the KGHM Robinson mine. KGHM’s copper mine in Ely is the single largest investment by a Polish company in the United States. Mining continues to be the bedrock of our state’s economy, and with continued investment from Poland, we hope to make our other industries just as successful.

[S.B.] One month ago, exactly between March 13th-17th, 40 Polish government, academia and business representatives participated in the historic mission to the State of Nevada - the first Polish Business and Education Week which took place in the United States. Tell us a bit more about this extraordinary initiative?

[K.S] The Week which was organized by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, in cooperation with the Polish American Chamber of Commerce of Nevada, and held in Carson City, Reno, and Las Vegas, was very important endeavor to boost Nevada-Poland relations to the highest possible level. That was also the first Polish Day at Nevada’s Legislature during which the State Senate adopted a Proclamation underlining the importance of our relations and Poland is the second country that was distinguished in this way by the State of Nevada. In the Proclamation, we expressed our deep appreciation to the people and government of Poland for their long history of friendship and cooperation with the people and government of the Unites States and the State of Nevada. That was the way to honor Poland and recognize the importance of our bilateral economic, education and innovation relationships.

This was also the strongest ever delegation of Polish companies and universities to Nevada which, in the long run - in my opinion - should make my state a center of Polish business operations on the American market. As you know, education is at the top of our Governor’s priorities. That is why I am particularly glad that the best Nevada and Polish universities during The Week had a chance to meet each other and talk about future programs or – like in the case of University of Nevada Business School and Warsaw School of Economics – to strengthen already existing and fruitful cooperation.

Through Polish Business and Education Week, we have gained a deeper understanding of the many benefits that can result from a strengthened Nevada-Poland partnership. Let me use this opportunity and thank our Polish partners in that endeavor: Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland, Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Warsaw School of Economics, Polish American Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw, Regional Chamber of Commerce in Katowice and many others for their incredible dedication to Nevada.

I hope that the success of the first Polish Business and Education Week will help drive knowledge about Poland back in Nevada, and I hope that in the years that come, Nevada will have as much to be proud of in our own history as Poland does in its. As I look toward the future, I am excited about many possibilities ahead as we lay the foundation to establish partnerships that will make Nevada and Poland economic allies in the years to come.

[S.B.] In order for Nevada to truly be successful, the world needs to know that you are the state open for business. I am sure most of our Organization Review’s readers are familiar with Nevada because of your world-class hospitality industry and industry-leading mining sector, but we also need to realize that Nevada is not only home to those thriving industries, but many others – including emerging industries such as water technology, unmanned aerial systems, and indoor agriculture…….

[K.S] I am proud to promote a state that embodies the American West. To me, that means more than large spans of open land and the success that stems from a business community that is given the freedom to thrive through a low tax burden, low cost of living, and limited regulations. Nevada is home to an industrious spirit that leads to innovation and entrepreneurship, making Nevada unlike any other place on earth.

Elon Musk recognized this spirit calling Nevada, “…a real get-it-done state,” when he joined Governor Sandoval on the steps of our Capitol to announce that Tesla Motors would be building the world’s first Gigafactory in Nevada. Because of this, we can add battery technology to our list of emerging industries, along with advanced manufacturing.

A lot has happened since creation of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) in 2011. Nevada was one of the hardest hit states during the Great Recession. Since that time, Nevada has been leading the nation in job creation – quite a turnaround for our state. Job creation has been the most pressing concern of my administration, and economic development is a top priority to ensure that Nevadans get back to work. GOED has been driving job creation through the enhanced support for targeted industries, the identification of emerging industries, and strategic international engagement. GOED’s effort to diversify Nevada’s economy has led to one of the most industrious periods in the state’s history.

As much as Nevada is forging ahead with new sectors and technologies, we are also working to ensure that innovation is driving the cornerstone industries of our economy – gaming and mining. Nevada’s past is as unique as its future, and the industrious spirit that carried us from the mining boom of our early days, to the casinos that make us a world-wide attraction, to the aerial vehicles that will soon take to the skies across Nevada, shows Nevada is an investment worth making.

[S.B.] Taking into consideration your broad experience gained in international business activities, could you please share with our readers your opinion about the reasons behind Nevada’s collaboration with Poland?

[K.S] Let me underline that Governor Brian Sandoval has visited 11 countries so far, championing Nevada as a place for foreign companies to do business and successfully enter the U.S. market. And he has recently said in one of his interviews that “Nevada’s relationships with Poland has accelerated more than with any other countries”.

One of the reasons behind Polish companies’ interest in Nevada is a competitive legal-and-tax system, as well as proximity to West Coast, i.e. California, Oregon and Washington. Nevada is believed to be one of the most attractive locations for investors in the USA. Furthermore, Governor Sandoval has significantly increased the funding for life science, innovation and modern technologies. A number of new initiatives came to life in Nevada during his term, including the Switch — US largest data-processing center (data centers in Las Vegas and Reno) and Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) — the world’s largest technological park spanning over 40 thousand hectares.

It is in TRIC that TESLA constructed the largest-in-the-world battery factory, which will soon double the world’s production of rechargeable batteries. It is in Nevada that the first unmanned aircraft (drone) was invented, and the state received the federal government’s license for drone testing (it is in Nevada that Polish manufacturers wanting to enter the drone market in the USA will be able to run the necessary tests).

From his first days in office the Nevada Governor has been emphasizing the importance of education as the main driver of development in the state. The University of Nevada, Reno “Innevation Center, Powered by Switch” established on his initiative is expected to be one of the key factors attracting modern-technology companies to Nevada. It includes the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, which is expected a center for the development and commercialization of autonomous-system technologies, including robotized ground, airborne and underwater systems such as industrial robots, autonomous cars, and drones.

[S.B.] Tell us please how you see the future of Nevada’s collaboration with Poland?

[K.S] I expect further dynamic development of the new-technology enterprise ecosystem in Northern Nevada. Conducive to this should be strong support from state authorities for the development of innovation centers, influx of leading enterprises from the modern-technology sector, a friendly system of economic activity and proximity of Silicon Valley. I believe that the strong Polish-Nevada partnership constitutes a chance for Polish enterprises and research institutes from the sector of robotics and autonomous vehicles, water technologies, innovative solutions in energy and opencast mining, which – thanks to our collaboration programs - will be given a fast commercialization path for their technologies.

Nevada is currently the only such example in which Polish research-and-educational entities and businesses can count on support for their activities under a unique in US scale partnership between state authorities represented by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, an active Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Poland in this state and Polish-American Chamber of Commerce in Nevada, as well as innovative academic research institutions in Las Vegas and Reno. In my opinion a particular chance for the stimulation of technological-and-business relations between Poland and Nevada comes from GOED-created collaboration platforms for autonomous vehicles and water technologies. It is in these areas, as well as exchange of experience in introducing innovative mining solutions, that I see further intensification of mutual business and institutional relations.

Let me emphasize the fact that as Nevada offers Polish companies a gateway to the American market, so does Poland opens doors for Nevada to give our businesses the access to the European Union market. I view Poland as a hub for Nevada’s cooperation with the whole Central and Eastern European region.

[S.B.] Thank you, Director Sanchez for the conversation. On behalf of the Editorial Board of the Organization Review please accept sincere congratulations for what you have already achieved in Nevada-Poland relations and best wishes for the success of your plans in future.