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Commerce official delivers grants, praises Las Vegas potential

Updated August 12, 2020 - 5:35 pm

WASHINGTON — Department of Commerce Chief of Staff Mike Walsh spent the past two days in Las Vegas to announce a grant for UNLV and to learn more about the area’s “uniquely hard hit” economy.

Still, the moment Walsh landed at McCarran International Airport, he told the Review-Journal, he saw messaging and an innovative spirit that bodes well for Sin City.

His advice to state and local communities: Apply for federal grants.

Walsh showed up at the UNLV Research Foundation with a $1.9 million Economic Development Agency grant for infrastructure improvements for the Harry Reid Research and Technology Park, which is near a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone. The total cost of the project is expected to be $3.8 million.

“It is good to be out here seeing everyone getting back on their feet,” Walsh said, as well as to see “some of the great entrepreneurial things that people in the tourism industry and at UNLV are doing to prepare for when the economy comes roaring back.”

The unemployment rate for the Las Vegas area was 18 percent in June; though alarming, it represents a steep decline from an unemployment rate of 34 percent in April. The U.S. unemployment rate in July was 10.2 percent.

Leisure, hospitality and retail businesses added 850,000 jobs in July alone. According to the Department of Labor, leisure and hospitality added 4 million jobs since April; that’s half the jobs lost in the two prior months. Walsh credited Trump policies for revving up the post-pandemic economy.

Walsh also credited hotels for using billboards to send the message to visitors, “The Las Vegas experience is going to be safe one for you.”

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the purpose of Commerce Department Chief of Staff Mike Walsh’s visit to Las Vegas. He was here to check on the progress of a program funded with federal grant money.

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