weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Las Vegas economic development agency ‘flies under the radar’

It’s an organization with its hands in just about every economic-redevelopment cookie jar across the state — area chambers of commerce, trade associations and local governments — yet in the words of its own president and CEO, the organization has been “flying under the radar.”

The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, a private-public partnership, has assumed and expanded the role of the Nevada Development Authority, which worked to recruit new businesses to the state as well as expand existing businesses.

“We needed a bigger budget, and they got it; we needed more people, and they’ve got it,” said Somer Hollingsworth, who retired from the alliance in 2015, after nearly 20 years of working to boost Southern Nevada’s economy.

2016 Las Vegas growth (Gabriel Utasi/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Hollingsworth oversaw the beginning of the organization’s transition to being more politically involved and more oriented toward community development.

In 2011, legislation was passed reforming the state economic development structure and turning the authority into the alliance.

“They walked in and said, ‘We need to expand this and take care of other things in the community,’” Hollingsworth said.

The alliance created a document outlining its five broad strategic goals — which includes developing a “legislative agenda to promote a truly positive business climate,” and focusing “workforce development on target sector opportunities” — each with its many subobjectives and outline of area partners that can be used to achieve those objectives.

“It’s all about job creation,” alliance President and CEO Jonas Peterson said. “When we strengthen our community to attract more high value jobs, we are all better off. That’s what the LVGEA is all about.”

So far in 2016, the alliance reports it has helped with the expansion and/or relocation of 10 companies — including Sitel, an outsourcing provider of customer experience management, and electric car manufacturer Faraday Future.

“The target for 2016 is to attract or expand over 38 business and create over 6,000 jobs,” Peterson said.



It takes an average of two years to get a company to move to Southern Nevada, he said. It all starts with identifying the right companies in the first place.

Companies that are most likely to be recruited by the alliance are those in target industries identified by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development that can benefit from proximity to Southern California, for example.

“Target industries are business and IT ecosystems, renewable energy, advanced mobility, manufacturing, logistics and distribution — industry sectors that we think have very strong growth prospects,” Peterson said.

The alliance’s team works with research partners to identify companies in other markets that are growing and that would fit well in Southern Nevada.

“Companies that could take advantage of our operating environment, our proximity to other markets. Then we will actually run a model with them. We typically try to show them what the impact would be to their bottom line and make a really detailed sales pitch for why they should consider relocating to Southern Nevada,” Peterson said. “If they say yes, that’s when the fun starts.”

The “fun” entails working with either the board members at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to help a company procure state-level incentives, or working with municipalities, or other public sector groups, or workforce entities to provide the research bolstering an argument for a company to relocate.

“Along with our community partners, we also help them work with utilities, locate the real estate they need, and help outline the regulatory processes they will have to follow,” he said.

Unlike many other states, such as Texas, Virginia and Michigan, Nevada does not offer cash incentives, but instead six tax abatement programs, a job training program and a reimbursement program for employee training expenses.

“Incentives are earned only when a company performs by investing in our community and creating new jobs that help to diversify and stabilize our economy,” Peterson said.

The incentives are also open to companies already in the state.


The renewed focus on community development and in-state company expansion from the 2011 restructuring also led to the launch of Southern Nevada’s first business retention program, BizConnect.

The program provides an avenue for business leaders to build relationships and partnerships with local leaders. The alliance reported 115 meetings with local business leaders in 2015, which entail listening to the types of challenges businesses are coming up against and finding solutions, which may include legislative recommendations.

“They’ve come into our office and talked to us several times about what programs are out there for us and how we can help offset some of our taxes,” said Troy Wilkinson, CEO and founder Las Vegas-based cybersecurity company Axiom Cyber Solutions. “The LVGEA is helping us tremendously, with our tax breaks and with any grants that we’re applying for.”

The program also provides businesses with market data, and assistance with recruiting students through secondary and higher education, among other benefits.

Peterson said the alliance still has some work to do when it comes to connecting and getting more businesses involved in the program.

Although Wilkinson has been in Las Vegas for six years, he said he only heard of the alliance about six months ago. He learned of the alliance through a friend and fellow business owner.

“The new brand hasn’t been around that long. You’ve got a team that’s delivering amazing results. We’re off to a record performance this year. It takes time to raise that awareness in the communities,” he said. “When the private sector is engaged, when they’re leading the charge — as long as that is in place, I think we will continue to grow. We will broaden our scope and do even more to help grow the economy.”

Hollingsworth said the alliance is in good hands.

“I’m old school. I mean, strategic plans are great, but to me, it’s what comes out at the end,” Hollingsworth said, “And oh my God, they followed it right to the T! I’m really pleased.”

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)