More downtown Las Vegas revitalization jobs reserved for area's residents

When it comes to downtown Las Vegas revitalization, one criticism remains constant: New jobs don't go to people who actually live in the city core, despite promises that public incentives will mean more work for locals.

"The individuals in the area are not being employed," said Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Barlow, who represents Ward 5, which includes downtown areas now seeing new investment and construction. "It's as though we are stealing from the poor to give to the rich."

A policy adopted Wednesday by the City Council is supposed to improve this employment picture by setting new goals for employing city residents and businesses run by women and minorities. It will be evaluated over the next year to see if it works.

The attitude, said Barlow, should be "we want your business. At the same time, there is a need ... for the uplifting of the people who live in the area."

New projects in the city's redevelopment area must fill 15 percent of all construction jobs with residents of the area, with residency determined by a driver's license or IRS tax form.

The redevelopment area includes downtown Las Vegas east of Interstate 15, south of Washington Avenue, north of Sahara Avenue and west of Maryland Parkway. It also includes corridors on Charleston Boulevard, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Eastern Avenue.

The developer would have to fulfill the local-hire goal to get 100 percent of whatever incentives were negotiated with the city, such as tax-increment financing.

To get incentives negotiated with the city, such as land or rent subsidies, a business doing a new project outside the redevelopment area, such as in a city technology park, must meet a 30 percent local-hire goal.

In both cases, developers would have to try to fill 15 percent of new jobs by employing minorities, women, the disabled or veterans.

Bill Arent, the city's economic and urban development director, said the new policy provides an incentive to employ city residents.

"We're going to have to really reach into these communities," Arent said. "It's going to require a lot of proactive work from our development partners."

The previous policy had only a "best efforts" provision and lacked standardized reporting and evaluation criteria, so it was hard to measure compliance and there weren't penalties for falling short.

Those elements are still lacking, said Katie Duncan, a longtime Ward 5 activist and recent mayoral candidate who made this one of her campaign issues.

"There's nothing in this plan that has any teeth in it," she told council members. "There has to be penalties on the developers."

She also called for an effort to train locals so that they can compete for available jobs. Arent promised quarterly updates on the policy's effectiveness in the next year.

Contact reporter Alan Choate at or 702-229-6435.