Las Vegas city officials welcomed delegations from six countries to its technology-focused coworking space in downtown on Monday, a day before the official start of one of the largest consumer electronic shows in the U.S.
By treating the government and trade association groups in town for CES to classroom-style presentations inside the International Innovation Center @ Vegas, city officials sought to ensure they didn’t miss an opportunity to market Las Vegas as a tech destination.
“Why limit yourself to just coming to Las Vegas for four days?” city Information Technologies Director Michael Sherwood asked. “Why not set up a customer experience center here?”
The innovation center, which officially launched in September, was set up for companies developing smart technologies that align with city priorities. With 10 tenants, the center is already full, and Sherwood told the Review-Journal that a second facility will open downtown during the first quarter of this year.
The new two-story center will be considerably larger at 44,000 square feet, more than three times the size of the first, according to Sherwood, who said Monday he could not yet reveal the location but he expected it would be “very close to booked” when it launches.
Sherwood said the center represents a win-win for Las Vegas and the companies that become tenants: The city gets to try out new technology for nominal costs and the company can market its technology to the rest of the U.S.
Hosting delegations, which the city does frequently to a lesser degree throughout the year, offers the city a chance to highlight its partnership opportunity and remind international visitors that Las Vegas is more than only entertainment, he added.
In-seok Koh, president of the Seoul Institute of Technology, joked that he was skeptical at first that the center might be inside a casino. But Koh, whose government-funded institute researches technical policies related to municipal administration, said he saw parallels between the center and projects in Seoul that also aim to elevate innovative companies.
“I was impressed about people overseas coming here to venture out their businesses,” he said through an architect acting as a translator.
The center, beyond welcoming about 60 or so international visitors throughout Monday, hosts both American and foreign companies.
“One thing I love is this building was empty before,” said city Deputy Information Technology Director Chris Craig. “It was sitting. There was nothing being done with this building. And we had an opportunity to take this on and now we’ve created jobs here.”
Other delegations visiting Monday included visitors from Taiwan, Turkey, France, Japan and the Netherlands, according to a center spokeswoman.