Herb Jaffe: Aristocrat’s arrival a big deal for ever-growing Summerlin

Groundbreaking ceremonies have become routine in Summerlin, thanks to the continuing economic uptick. Although some groundbreakings are for extraordinary developments, both in size and in value, few bring out the most notable public official in the state.

Thus, when Gov. Brian Sandoval recently came to Summerlin to participate in the groundbreaking for what will become the major American facility of Australian gaming equipment company Aristocrat Technologies, you knew it had to be something big.

“This is a big deal,” the governor said in a brief interview. “It’s a big deal for Summerlin, and it’s a big deal for the state.” Sandoval may have played a significant role in Aristocrat’s decision to settle in Summerlin. He met with officials of the company at its headquarters in Sydney last year during a trade mission.

“I’m truly happy to be here for this kind of occasion,” a smiling Sandoval stated.

With this addition, “we’re talking about new opportunities in gaming,” he told those assembled for the ceremony at the 100-acre development site, adjacent to the mammoth RC Willey furniture store along Hualapai Way and the 215 Beltway.

Aristocrat Technologies is a global leader in the manufacture of slot machines and in the innovation of gaming technology. It has more than 30 worldwide offices on five continents, including half a dozen in North America.

Matt Wilson, Aristocrat’s managing director for the Americas, was as effervescent as Sandoval.

“We’ve been doing business here in Las Vegas since the 1960s, but this new campus will guarantee our presence for decades to come,” he said. The new development will actually be in the unincorporated sector of Summerlin.

Aristocrat has been in a regional facility in Green Valley for almost 15 years. The sprawling campus in Summerlin, which will consist of manufacturing and technological space in a pair of three-story buildings, will employ more than 700 people, Wilson said.

“We have looked at a lot of places over the last two or three years, and we found this to be the most desirable for us,” he said after the groundbreaking.

The Aristocrat facilities will occupy about 11 acres of the site being developed, and the remaining 90 or so acres will consist of other commercial, office, retail and possibly residential development, said Tom Warden, senior vice president of community and government relations for Howard Hughes Corp., developer of the Summerlin master plan.

Kevin Orrock, president of the Summerlin sector of Hughes Corp., called Aristocrat’s commitment “a red-letter day for us … They’re a global leader in gaming.” Orrock referred to Aristocrat as “a perfect match” for Summerlin’s continued development.

“There’s a growing trend to keep businesses closer to home,” he continued, pointing in particular to “an ideal quality of life” for the many Aristocrat employees who are expected to take up residence in Summerlin.

“The company did a lot of searching before settling on this site,” Orrock said. “We convinced them that a location in Summerlin would be the ideal place, especially if they’re looking for future expansion. This location gives them lots of flexibility.”

Orrock and Wilson agreed that the Summerlin site was also ideally located, in close proximity to Aristocrat’s marketplace, which is the Strip and its many casinos.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

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