COVID spotlights Las Vegas’ need to offer more than tourism
LAS VEGAS — The coronavirus pandemic’s widespread impact has reminded Las Vegas officials that they need to diversify their economy beyond tourism.
There hasn’t been a lack of trying but the need has been laid even more bare thanks to COVID-19, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
With people afraid to enter hotels and casinos and residency shows postponed till next year, there have been wrenching job and revenue losses. Resort operators themselves have tried to broaden their offerings to all ages on casino and hotel floors. But it’s not enough for some.
“We’ve got all our money in one stock,” North Las Vegas City Manager Ryann Juden said.
The region has successfully wooed many businesses and real estate developers in the last decade with tax breaks and a relatively cheap cost of living. Between 2010 and 2019, Nevada officials passed a combined $728.7 million in tax breaks for more than 180 companies setting up shop in Clark County. Southern Nevada has also become a distribution hub for online retailer Amazon, baby products maker The Honest Co. and other ventures that don’t involve casinos.
But there have also been ventures that fizzled. Faraday Future had proposed a 3.4 million-square-foot factory that would build up to 150,000 electric vehicles annually. Lawmakers even passed a $335 million incentive package. Faraday officials broke ground in 2016. But in 2017, the project went nowhere after reports of financial troubles. The company took over an existing facility in California instead.
Some analysts say Southern Nevada still doesn’t have the assets that some are looking for. Sin City’s party image, underperforming schools and a shortage of doctors don’t appeal to families.
Bob Potts, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said a good jolt in the local economy would be some sort of industrial park south of Las Vegas near the California border.
But, “you don’t build those kinds of things overnight,” Potts said.