Bank of America official sees hiring uptick in Las Vegas

Updated September 5, 2017 - 5:17 pm

Bank of America has been hiring hundreds of people in Nevada as strong economic growth drives greater demand for commercial and retail loans.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank has added roughly 300 employees locally over the past 24 months, boosting the headcount to about 1,600 said Al Welch, market president for Las Vegas, during a recent interview at their local headquarters at 300 S. Fourth St.

“We are seeing double-digit loan growth, it is strong, well-structured, sound companies,’’ Welch said of the commercial lending division. “It has been a nice recovery here.’’

The bank was forced to significantly cut local staff and cut lending amid the financial crisis, which hammered the Nevada housing and construction sector and sent some companies into bankruptcy. Even with the new hires, the bank is still below its pre-crisis level.

State More Attractive

Nevada’s economy is in much better shape and is a more attractive place to relocate to compared with the pre-crisis period, Welch said, who moved to Las Vegas in 2007 and experienced the last stages of the boom period.

“Some of the reasons why this market was attractive then are still attractive now. It is the southwest, it’s a good lifestyle, a good tax environment. But I think this city has come a long way in improvements in education, health care, infrastructure,’’ he said.

Having professional sports team will further support the case for attracting new companies to the city, he added. The Vegas Golden Knights hockey team will play their first regular season game ever this fall. The Raiders are expected to play their first game in Las Vegas in 2020.

While Las Vegas and Reno areas are winning some young innovative companies, Salt Lake City is more of an emerging tech hub, said Welch, who also oversees commercial banking for Utah and Arizona.

Welch said he is not concerned about a housing bubble in Southern Nevada as lending practices are much tighter than pre-crisis. Housing prices have risen at a strong clip since bottoming in early 2012.

“Structurally, we are in such a better place than we were. The underwriting terms are much more in the box.’’

Welch, 52, took over as market president for Las Vegas in February 2016. He replaced George Smith, who ran the local operation for nearly 25 years.

Welch also oversees the bank’s Indian commercial gaming business nationwide. He joined Bank of America in 1989.

Contact Todd Prince at tprince@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0386. Follow @toddprincetv on Twitter.

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