In the push for economic diversification, the Nevada Development Authority has taken the edge off its relocation pitch to California businesses.
A new set of advertisements started airing Monday on Southern California cable TV, and they're not cute or funny. No more comparing California lawmakers to chimps. No insinuations that the bear on California's state flag would jump if given the chance. And, most notably, no more emphasis on Nevada's lower-tax, less-regulated business climate -- an approach that irritated the Legislature's majority Democrats.
Instead, the spots let real people offer testimonials about why Las Vegas is a great place to live and do business.
"People just don't know what we're about in the business sector," said Somer Hollingsworth, president and chief executive officer of the Nevada Development Authority. "A lot of them believe 'The Hangover' is really Las Vegas."
Among the stars of the commercials: Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh, UNLV President Neal Smatresk and restaurateur Rick Moonen. "They approached me about doing a 20-second spot called 'The Real Las Vegas.' I was like, 'My God, thank you,' " Mr. Moonen said. "Vegas is now legitimate."
It has been for years. Beyond the glitz of the Strip is a vibrant community full of leaders and visionaries who care not only about the economic health and growth of Nevada, but the strength of its communities and how they are perceived. We do indeed have a lot to offer any enterprise that's entertaining the idea of relocation.
It would be nice to see some of Nevada's politicians follow suit and put a little more emphasis on the positive, rather than provide sound bite after sound bite about how terrible our standard of living is. Those quotes, easily found in any Internet search that includes the words "Nevada" and "worst," serve as an ever-lasting counter to the development authority's campaign.
It will be important to see whether this new approach bears fruit for the state. According to the authority, just six of the 27 businesses that opened new operations in Southern Nevada in fiscal 2011 were from California. The energy dedicated to this campaign must not be at the expense of Nevada's existing businesses, who need all the help they can get to keep their doors open. Gov. Brian Sandoval is right to promote his freeze on new business regulation and his promised purge of existing regulations that hurt business.
It won't do our economy much good if luring a dozen employers from California coincides with 100 enterprises closing their doors.