Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall seeks new office to help Nevada small business
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Steve Sisolak and Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall are asking lawmakers to create and fund the Office of the Small Business Advocate.
Marshall told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 6, the plan would pay for an ombudsman to work with small businesses and help them “navigate state agencies.”
She said the Department of Business and Industry currently operates the Small Business Development Center (which has locations throughout the state and Northern Nevada), and the Nevada System of Higher Education helps new businesses as well. But she said at present, no one takes up the issues those small businesses face after they come to Nevada.
“This position is really focused on the next step,” she said. “Currently, that’s not a service being provided at the Business Development Center.”
Marshall said much of what the office would do is help businesses get through licensing and other contacts with state agencies when those small businesses have a problem and need someone to go to bat for them.
She said the proposed budget for the office would be about $232,000 over the biennium.
The office would also keep track of the issues that come up and provide lawmakers with an annual report on the types of issues they’re dealing with.
She said if the ombudsman identifies a pattern in the types of licensing or certification issues that come up, that report would help lawmakers decide whether some statutory or regulatory change should be made.
Assemblywoman Heidi Swank, D-Las Vegas, asked whether nonprofit organizations could access those services. Marshall assured her nonprofits would be taken care of as well.
Sisolak mentioned the idea of the Office of the Small Business Advocate during his inaugural State of the State address in mid-January.
According to media reports, Marshall previously said the office would be located in Las Vegas.
Word of mouth has long been key to small business success, and online reviews provide a new, relevant channel to do so. That said, while more respondents say online reviews are more helpful than not, there is also awareness of the damage a negative write-up can have.