Reno Gazette Journal

Jason Hidalgo

Reno Gazette Journal

06 January 2021

Reno welcomes two new companies in biotech, financial technology sector.

Reno is adding two more California companies to its fold as the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada announced the arrival of a growing biotechnology firm and a fledgling financial technology business to the area on Tuesday.

Sacramento-based biotech company StemExpress is expanding to The Biggest Little City after inking a deal for a new 52,000-square-foot facility in Reno. The other company, Bay Area-based PayCertify, is moving its headquarters to Reno altogether as it embarks on an ambitious growth plan for the company.

StemExpress and PayCertify are exactly the kind of businesses that Northern Nevada hopes to attract as the region continues its march toward a more diversified economy that is less reliant on traditional industries such as gaming, said Mike Kazmierski, EDAWN president and CEO.

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Chase Harmer and Stan Thomas

Photograph by Brian Reyes

The arrival of both companies also shows that efforts to attract technology companies to the region are bearing fruit as it has become much easier to sell Reno-Sparks, Kazmierski added. Just a few years ago, recruiting tech firms and startups to Northern Nevada was like telling someone “to be the first person to set up a company in Siberia.” Things have since changed, however, following the arrival of high-profile companies such as Tesla and Panasonic as well as several other smaller tech-based businesses.

“These companies want to know that they have like-minded people here,” Kazmierski said. “You’re no longer forced to explain that there really is tech here because they kind of know it already, which makes it so much easier for us. It’s really exciting to see companies we wouldn’t have had a chance to attract five years ago coming here.”

StemExpress, which was founded in 2010, runs several cell management laboratories and stem cell collection centers that are used to help accelerate research and clinical trials. The biotech company is based in Sacramento, where CEO Cate Dyer was named the 2021 businesswoman of the year Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.


Photograph by PayCertify

The Reno facility will be among the largest of StemExpress’ centers, rivaling the size of its California headquarters, Dyer said. Unlike its typical cell centers, the Reno center will also double as a large-scale warehouse and centralized shipping location for the company. The company bought the building from International Game Technology, which recently made a portion of its large IGT Reno campus available for subleasing.

Dyer plans to carve out space in the Reno building for cell collection and is in early talks with area hospitals about helping launch cell and gene therapies for people suffering from diseases such as cancer.

“To do cutting-edge cancer treatment, you start with cell collection,” Dyer said. “Having a facility like this, you could actually access a higher treatment of care that would not be accessible here in the region otherwise.”

Dyer also plans to work with the University of Nevada, Reno, as well as local colleges and high schools on student training programs similar to what the company does in Sacramento. StemExpress did not receive any incentives or abatement from the state, according to EDAWN.

The other company that was announced on Tuesday, PayCertify, specializes in various financial technology services, including credit card issuing and payment processing. PayCertify just announced a partnership this month with communications company Illumi for its payment processing and fraud mitigation services.

“We’re business to business,” said CEO Chase Harmer. “We’re a merchant-first organization.”

The company currently has 45 employees and plans to hire 100 more people in Reno over the next several years. Harmer also expects PayCertify’s growth to be further accelerated due to the impact of COVID-19.

One unique approach employed by PayCertify compared to its rivals is allowing its clients to earn cash back for using the service. The company was described as a perfect fit for the community by Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall, particularly given how COVID-19 has hit several local businesses hard. PayCertify will help further beef up Northern Nevada’s entrepreneurial network, Marshall added.

“We heard a lot about what happened to small businesses during this pandemic so part of what we’re doing in Northern Nevada is attracting other entrepreneurs that add to and build out that ecosystem,” Marshall said.