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USA: Can battery companies help drive an economic comeback in Las Vegas?

With Nevada looking to diversify its economy, a group of little-known companies appears to hold promise in the field of rechargeable lithium batteries.

One such company, K2 Energy Solutions Inc., of Henderson, has gained regional and national attention in recent months.

Late last year, it was named the Technology Business Alliance of Nevada’s Green Tech Company of the Year, and it also landed on the Inc. 500/5,000 list of the fastest-growing companies in the nation, at No. 79.

The private company’s revenue in 2010 was $5.5 million, up from nearly $179,000 in 2007, and it had 49 employees, the Inc. profile of K2 said.

Since publication of the Inc. profile, K2 has disclosed that its revenue grew in 2011 to “well over” $10 million.

”We doubled revenue in 2011 and we expect to double it again this year,” CEO Johnnie Stoker said.

The 5-year-old company also turned profitable in 2011, he said, adding the firm wasn’t disclosing any exact numbers on revenue and profit.

“We really have no debt, so everything is being reinvested into our growth,” Stoker said, adding employment at the firm has now reached 110 worldwide, including more than 70 in Henderson.

“If we hit our numbers this year, we’ll be up to 100 employees in the United States,” he said.

“We had a good profit, I wouldn’t call it a large profit,” he added.

Another company with Nevada operations in the specialty battery field is Valence Technology Inc. of Austin, Texas. It has about 10 Las Vegas-area employees in its legal and engineering operations.

K2 and Valence share a heritage. Valence moved its headquarters from San Jose, Calif., to Henderson in 1995 because of the lower costs to do business in Nevada.
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