Like many businesses and organizations in southern Nevada, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA) was hit hard by the economic fallout from COVID-19. A Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from Nevada State Bank helped the community-supported nonprofit continue the vital support services it offers to local businesses. It also helped it reach out with economic development initiatives to encourage companies to move into the area. As the state-sanctioned regional economic development authority, LVGEA offers its services free of charge.

“The pandemic put a strain on our community and on our organization’s resources,” said Jared Smith, LVGEA’s Chief Operating Officer. “We were very worried about financial losses because in times of stress, nonprofits typically take revenue hits.” He explained that around 55 percent of the organization’s revenue comes from the business community, and the rest from public sources like local municipalities and the state of Nevada. “During a time when local businesses needed our team’s help more than ever, the very people who needed our help weren’t able to contribute as much,” he said. In addition, LVGEA was unable to sponsor the events they would ordinarily use to raise funds, although they eventually pivoted to virtual fundraisers.

When the PPP was first launched in 2020, 501(c)6 nonprofits like LVGEA didn’t qualify for assistance, but the second round of the program did contain funding for them. It was then that LVGEA reached out to Shannon Petersen, EVP/Corporate Banking Manager of Nevada State Bank, for assistance. Petersen has served on LVGEA’s Board of Directors since 2016. “We had heard of the good experiences other businesses had with getting PPP loans from NSB in phase 1 of the program,” explained Smith. “Shannon Petersen and Nevada State Bank have a long-standing collaborative relationship with us.”

Within days, LVGEA received the funding it needed to maintain its staffing levels and continue helping companies throughout southern Nevada. “We received highly responsive service from the NSB team,” said Smith. “Access to a PPP loan gave us a sense of financial security that we could continue to support the community at a time when the community really needed us. It gave us breathing room to move forward.”

Through a program called BizCONNECT, LVGEA conducted small business outreach to over 3,100 companies in Clark County during 2020, introducing them to local, state, and federal programs that provided financial relief to businesses navigating through the pandemic. In addition, BizCONNECT referred eligible businesses to the Layoff Aversion Program, which provided grants that helped save hundreds of local jobs.

Now that the national economy is beginning to normalize, LVGEA is seeing more interest from companies wanting to relocate to southern Nevada. “During the pandemic, most companies put relocation projects on hold rather than cancelling them entirely,” explained LVGEA President & CEO Jonas Peterson. “Now, there’s a lot of pent-up demand, which will soon bring more businesses into town.”

Another positive factor for the future is that during the COVID-19 shutdown, many workers realized that they didn’t need to commute an hour and a half to go into a main office because they could get the same work done remotely. According to Peterson, this resulted in a flood of experienced, educated workers moving from California, with its high taxes and high real estate prices, to relocate in southern Nevada. “One of the challenges we’ve faced in our efforts to diversify the economy is the shortage of a skilled workforce, so having access to these new employees will help play a role in diversifying the economy away from tourism,” he said.

Shannon Petersen explained that Nevada State Bank is committed to supporting economic development in southern Nevada. “In addition to our Board involvement, one way we could assist LVGEA was to ensure that its PPP loan application was processed as quickly as possible, giving it the funds it needed to continue its vital work,” she said.

“Nevada State Bank is an active, trusted member of our Board, helping to guide our strategy and activities that support the local economy,” said Smith. “We appreciate the partnership, leadership, and service NSB brings to the community.” 

PHOTO CAPTION: Jared Smith, Shannon Petersen, Jonas Peterson