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Las Vegas using grant incentives to spur office migration downtown

Before e-commerce retailer Trend Nation, LLC relocates its operations and roughly 40 employees to downtown Las Vegas, extensive renovations must be finished to its new home: A 60-year-old building in dire need of repair.

By late March, Trend Nation founder and CEO Brad Howard said he expects the $1-million-plus rehabilitation — including structural rebuild, asbestos removal and inside gutting — to be completed.

For Howard, it was well worth the work: a chance for the company, which started 12 years ago in the northeastern valley, to be centrally located and cater to a millennial workforce with the area’s bevy of nearby bars and restaurants. But the company isn’t doing it alone; the city is chipping in.

As downtown redevelopment continues at a torrid pace for retail and restaurant industries, Las Vegas seeks to incentivize one sector that has lagged behind the revitalization boom: The office market, which has seemed to be the slowest to recover from the Great Recession, said Bill Arent, the city’s director of Economic and Urban Development.

In an effort to recruit more companies to move to the greater downtown area, the city this fiscal year introduced the Office Tenant Incentive Program, offering grant money to assist small- to mid-sized businesses with the costs of entering into older properties that may be less traditionally considered office spaces — or the “hidden gems of the marketplace” as Arent described them.

Trend Nation was awarded $50,000 in November, making it the first recipient of the program.

“It was a key factor in us choosing the downtown area,” Howard said.

Companies must sign at least a 5-year lease to be eligible for the OTIP program, Arent said, but he suggested overall “barrier to entry is pretty low.”

The company also received $25,000 through the Commercial Visual Improvement Program, which launched over a decade ago to improve commercial property facades. The program helped as many as 12 businesses annually during its infancy, largely in the retail and restaurant sectors. It now assists far fewer, Arent said, but only because those markets have grown dramatically since then.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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