Try this word association game: What comes to mind when you think of Las Vegas and biodegradable plastic?
At least that's what a small start-up company in the city known for Elvis impersonators and quickie weddings hopes you'll say.
Las Vegas-based Millennium Plastics Corp., which makes biodegradable plastics, just signed a contract with Gingrich to provide "communication and management consulting services."
Translation: The former Speaker of the House opens doors.
"Here is a guy who has lots of connections to high-tech corporations and environmentally friendly organizations," Paul Branagan, president and chief executive officer of Millennium, said in a news release.
Gingrich will not be lobbying but is helping the company plan strategy, Branagan said. What he really will help do, Branagan said, is "get this in front of people who will say, `OK, I know this costs more, but in the long run there may be some other reason why this makes more sense.'|"
Branagan declined to say how much he paid for the one-year deal with Washington-based Gingrich Group. Branagan said details of the strategy are being worked out.
While much of the work will go to Gingrich's staff, Branagan said he had a one-hour meeting in Washington with the former congressman during the weekend of President Bush's inauguration.
Nancy Desmond, Gingrich Group president, said clients usually meet with the former speaker monthly and have regular interaction via e-mail and telephone calls.
"They actually get quite a bit of his time," she said.
When asked about other environmentally oriented projects, Desmond cited a client that sells machines that fit in the windows of trucks at truck stops, providing heat, air conditioning and power with cable television and Internet hookups. The truckers get all the amenities without having to run their engines all night and pollute, she said.
"He's very interested in working with companies that he believes really make a difference in America," Desmond said.
Millennium is developing a polyvinyl alcohol-based, biodegradable plastic it says dissolves in water and can be combined with other food-grade additives. The company is working with manufacturers that make spoons for the U.S. Navy, golf tees and shotgun wads, Branagan said.
Last year, Millennium bought Solplax Ltd., an Irish company that developed the polymer, when Solplax ran into financial problems. Millennium recently announced that it had attracted $1 million in funding, but its most recent financial reports show a loss of $283,000 and no revenues for the three months ended June 30.
Branagan said he is Millennium's only full-time employee in the United States. In Ireland, Solplax has a compounding lab, an injection molding machine and five chemists.