Reopening Las Vegas’ tourism corridor and regional economy will be a priority for the new board chair of the Vegas Chamber, with a focus on the upcoming legislative session and new resources.
Gina Bongiovi, a small-business owner and managing partner of Bongiovi Law Firm, was sworn in Thursday by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman as the new board chairwoman of the Vegas Chamber.
“Getting us reopening is job No. 1,” Bongiovi said, laying out her priorities in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week. “We can’t continue to operate at this reduced capacity. We need to get back on track and start positioning ourselves again as the place for business and vacation travelers so we can support our tax base.”
Bongiovi, whose firm provides legal services to local small businesses and nonprofits, says Las Vegas reopening at full capacity won’t happen until the state keeps the virus under control. The overlapping crises of a global pandemic and an economic downturn have made clear to Bongiovi that the 2021 Nevada legislative session will be pivotal for small businesses.
“As chair, this is my top priority as this is a make-or-break legislative session for Nevada businesses,” Bongiovi told chamber members Thursday. “The 2021 legislative session is one of great consequence. … Imposing more regulations, requirements and costs on businesses struggling to stay alive is not the answer in 2021.”
She told the Review-Journal that not every policymaker has fully grasped the “unintended consequences” of legislation that may appear to be positive and that it is the chamber’s responsibility to educate lawmakers “about what will happen if a certain bill passes and the impact that it will have on the business community.”
The pandemic has exposed the need for a strong workforce development and a diversified economy, Bongiovi said. Retraining workers for high-demand jobs “is critical to expanding our economy and attracting innovators to our region,” she said.
Local elected officials and business leaders said Bongiovi is the right person to lead the chamber at a crucial time for small businesses.
“You will be looked upon as a spokesperson for members of the largest business association in Nevada,” said Goodman before she swore in Bongiovi. “You will be called upon to appear as the leader of businesses in many areas of our community and at the Nevada Legislature.”
Tom Burns, the outgoing chairman of the Vegas Chamber’s board of trustees, said, “You’re supposed to pick somebody that’s better and brighter than you, and I got myself an A on that.”
Bongiovi said she’s optimistic Las Vegas’ economy will rebound in 2021.
“I think we will make a lot of headway next year, I’m very optimistic,” said Bongiovi. “We will bounce back again being wiser for the experience, and it just underscores the importance of diversifying our economy.”