Local governments are pledging up to $1 million to give corporate leaders an immersive tour of the valley during Super Bowl weekend — an effort to convince them to bring their businesses to Southern Nevada.
The taxpayer dollars, which are being raised by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, will go into a $2.25 million fund that will be completed with private donations.
Clark County commissioners on Tuesday approved earmarking up to $440,000 for the proposal, and the Las Vegas City Council voted Wednesday to provide up to $290,000.
Councilwoman Victoria Seaman, the lone dissenting vote with the city of Las Vegas, said that the public funds could be used for more pressing issues and that she’s not sure how much a three-day event could do to convince a corporation to move to Southern Nevada.
“It’s truly disheartening to witness a request for public funds for these types of events,” said Seaman, who also is a mayoral candidate. “In the face of these urgent needs, spending taxpayer money on a party for corporate executives and tours — I feel — is not only irresponsible, it violates the very trust given to us by the voters and citizens or our city.”
Mayor Carolyn Goodman said it would be “embarrassing” if the city didn’t join the efforts while other jurisdictions did.
The city of North Las Vegas pledged $120,000 in July. Henderson hasn’t voted on a $150,000 request, and a city spokesperson said Wednesday that discussions were ongoing.
A document draft viewed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal showed a $1.24 million line item for a suite at Allegiant Stadium. However, fund organizers and government officials assured lawmakers that no public money will be used for Super Bowl-related activities, including the actual game.
Instead, organizers said the public dollars would fund expenses such as hospitality and transportation for representatives of up to 30 companies. They will be taken around Southern Nevada for “curated events” to showcase what it’s like to live and work here, said former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones Blackhurst, who’s involved in the fundraising efforts.
The three-day event would include face-to-face meetings with government and elected officials, and visits to places such as universities, churches and parks, organizers said.
Jones Blackhurst said that local governments could do a better job selling Southern Nevada outside the tourist corridor.
“The great thing is we don’t need to make up the story,” she told the Las Vegas City Council. “We have the story, we just need to tell the story so people could hear it.”
LVGEA President and CEO Tina Quigley said that organizers were targeting businesses in the clean energy, health care, creative, and sports and entertainment sectors. City and county representatives will have a say on who ultimately is invited, she said.
The concept is similar to one instituted in the run-up to the 2015 Super Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona, which was then expanded to other events that have taken place — something organizers say also happens in Southern Nevada.
The event was originally named “Corporate Combine,” but it’s in the midst of changing its name to “Locate,” which also will be a nonprofit entity. The fund is being managed by the LVGEA until the nonprofit status is official.