It’s a buzzword that’s increasingly floating through the ether and over the internet.

Blockchain.

But, what is it exactly? And what potential does it bring to Nevada’s economy?

These were two of the focal points that a collection of policymakers, state administrators, and entrepreneurs dug into at the “Blockchain: Building a New Nevada on Trust” conference held Feb. 6 at the Nevada Museum of Art.

The impetus for developing a blockchain braintrust came roughly eight months ago, on June 5, when Nevada became the first state to approve a bill — Senate Bill 398 — that blocked local governments from taxing blockchain transactions. The nature of the bill, shepherded by Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, is to ensure entrepreneurs can safely and reliably use “blockchain” technology to electronically record transactions.

Simply put, the bill offers new technology startups a golden opportunity in the Silver State.

“As I was preparing for the last legislature session I was working with a lot of entrepreneurs and young business people in Northern Nevada,” Kieckhefer said during the blockchain conference. “(We were) talking about ways that we could develop and support an eco-system to change how we think about economic development, to grow the next big company here locally rather than importing it … and this was one of the bills that came out of those thoughts.”

Paul Anderson, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office is “rolling out the red carpet to companies that want to focus on this innovation.”

“I appreciate Sen. Kieckhefer’s bill,” Anderson added. “It certainly put us on the map when it came to acknowledging that Nevada is ready and willing to be as nimble as those businesses want to be.”

Since the signing of Kieckhefer’s blockchain-friendly bill, there’s been a significant uptick of blockchain companies targeting Northern Nevada as a destination, said Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

“It’s amazing how just a little bit of legislation can really move the needle,” Kazmierski said. “The interest has gone up dramatically since the legislation passed. We’ve had several companies and executives express interest.”

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