Economic development is a competitive sport. Period. We are competing against other regions, particularly in the southwest, to bring high-quality, innovative jobs to Greater Vegas.
Like a sports team gunning for the championship trophy, it’s very important that we believe in ourselves (we could learn a thing or two from our beloved Vegas Golden Knights!). I’m not talking about just the LVGEA team and our regional partners in economic development. I’m talking about the entire community. We must ALL believe that Greater Vegas really IS the best place to bring or grow a business, or to raise a family.
Earlier this month, at LVGEA’s annual Las Vegas Perspective event, I spoke about the need to rewrite a few of our outdated narratives. Yes, our region, like ALL regions, has its challenges. But over the past decade we have grown, matured, and invested in our community’s foundation. It is time to see ourselves through a refreshed perspective.
With your help, the LVGEA is working to rewrite the region’s narrative on a couple different topics:
Old Narrative #1: Las Vegas is running out of water.
One of the most common questions we get from businesses looking to move to or expand in the region, is “do you have water?” We’ve even found that some businesses are ruling our region out before they even ask the question, because they think they already know the answer.
The narrative that we need to be sharing with the world is that the Greater Vegas area has the most secure long-term water plan in the southwestern U.S. Not only that, but we are the only community that relies on the Colorado River that recycles and returns all indoor water back to the river. The return-flow credits we receive for returning our recycled water to Lake Mead help stretch our water supply even further. That, plus the foresight to build the ‘third straw’ at the bottom of Lake Mead, will allow Las Vegas to pull water even if the lake falls below Deadpool.
Additionally, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) has implemented one of the most comprehensive water conservation plans in the nation, helping the community reduce its per capita water use by 47% between 2002 and 2020, even as the population increased by 780,000 residents during that time.
LVGEA is currently working with the SNWA and other partners to create an objective scoring framework to assess the impact of a new business based on their water use and overall community benefit. This tool will help the region determine if a business is a good fit for our region and resources.
Old Narrative #2: Our public school system is one of the worst in the country.
We’ve all seen the headlines: the Clark County School District ranks lowest in the nation when it comes to quality of education.
And while our K-12 education system does have challenges, if you dig into the data, there are some bright spots.
Our region does have schools that perform higher than the national average. Two notable areas of pride: (1) CCSD’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools rank high nationally. In fact, Southeast Career and Technical Academy (SECTA) was named the best magnet school in the country in 2022, and (2) Nevada’s public charter schools are outperforming their peers in student achievement.
The 2023 legislature also approved a 25% increase in per-pupil student funding, which will automatically increase our national rankings in future years, as those formulas heavily weigh the per-pupil spending amount.
To try and rewrite this narrative for site selectors and companies looking to relocate, LVGEA will be working with GOED and our education partners on a campaign to highlight some of the positive aspects of our education system.
Old Narrative #3: Las Vegas doesn’t prioritize sustainability.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In a city known for excess, we are world leaders in sustainability.
Take for example, Novva Holdings and its newly announced regional data center. While traditionally known to be high water users, Novva innovated a facility design that invests in closed-loop cooling equipment that effectively eliminates water replacement in the cooling process.
And at our Perspective event, we hosted Pilar Harris, Senior Director of CSR and Government Relations with Las Vegas Grand Prix, Inc., who spoke about the sustainability measure the organization is on the leading-edge of in making the F1® race in Las Vegas a sustainable event.
And Tim Leiweke, Chairman & CEO of the Oak View Group, also took the stage to discuss plans to start work next year on a $10B resort and arena project south of the strip. Leiweke pointed to the company’s development of Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, the world’s first certified zero carbon arena, as proof the company will apply technological innovation to build the world-class venue with advanced sustainability practices in Greater Vegas.
So, the next time you hear a friend or family member say something negative about the Greater Vegas region, speak up. Don’t be afraid to tell them their information may be outdated. And challenge them to see our region through a refreshed perspective.