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Local News

Super Bowl schmooze: $2M CEO courting experiment a success, LVGEA tells lawmakers

Credit: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau

April Corbin Girnus, Nevada Current
February 29, 2024

Up to nine of the 16 out-of-state companies whose CEOs were wined and dined during Super Bowl Week will relocate to Southern Nevada, the head of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance predicts.

LVGEA in the lead up to Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium earlier this month launched a new initiative, branded as the Local Opportunity Collaborative Advancing Transformative Economic Development Las Vegas, or LOCATE Las Vegas, to woo businesses into relocating or expanding into Southern Nevada. The CEOs were treated to three days of tours, meetings, and tickets to the big game.

“I was hoping that maybe three to four of these companies would either locate or expand into Las Vegas,” LVGEA President and CEO Tina Quigley told state lawmakers on an interim revenue committee Wednesday. “If in 12 months we don’t have at least six to nine of them here, I will be surprised. That’s how successful I think it was.”

Roughly $2 million was raised for the economic development initiative; $1 million of which was public funds provided by county and city governments. LOCATE received $440,000 from Clark County, $290,000 from Las Vegas, $150,000 from North Las Vegas, and $120,000 from Henderson.

Private sector partners included Howard Hughes, Caesars Entertainment and Budget Suites of America, according to an LVGEA press release.

Quigley told lawmakers the CEOs toured a variety of locations, including the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, Las Vegas Aces headquarters, Black Fire Innovation at the Harry Reid Research and Technology Park, and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Las Vegas. The executives met with university presidents, workforce development agencies, peer CEOs, and elected officials, including Gov. Joe Lombardo.

They also took a helicopter tour and attended the football game.

“We did very curated itineraries for these CEOs based on what industry they were in, so that they could see and feel and touch and get to know our communities beyond just the Strip,” said Quigley. “These people were astounded to learn not only that there’s life outside the Strip but, in their words, what a tight-knit community we are.”

Which 16 companies were represented is considered confidential by the economic development authority, but organizers when pitching the idea last year said they’d identified prospects in the clean tech, sports and entertainment, and healthcare industries.

Quigley told lawmakers the 16 companies might not be eligible for state abatements through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development because they won’t have the number of employees required to qualify, but she said the companies would come with higher than average salaries.

The Super Bowl experiment marks a shift in focus for the LVGEA, according to Quigley, from assisting companies when they come and express interest, to more proactively recruiting companies.

Quigley compared it to spearfishing.

“We’re at a point where fish are no longer jumping into our boat,” she said. “It’s time for us to become very strategic and targeted. Going spearfishing for those companies and industries that we want to help develop our community.”

An initial migration of transportation and logistics companies that wanted to relocate to Nevada because of its close proximity to California have dried up, said Quigley, so the state now needs to be more proactive in luring companies.

In 2021, LVGEA assisted 39 new or expanding companies, according to presentation materials shown to state lawmakers. In 2022 and 2023, the alliance assisted only 11 and 12, respectively.

Even when you consider that the 2021 figure might include a backlog of companies whose 2020 plans were delayed because of the covid pandemic, that still represents a “significant change,” said Quigley.

Economic development agencies believe Nevada lags behind peer states when it comes to offering tax abatements and other incentives for businesses.

Quigley said LVGEA saw this firsthand in December when a tech company was “in talks” with them to relocate to Southern Nevada but instead decided to relocate to Texas because they were offered better abatements and given 20 acres of land. That company would have brought an initial 150 jobs and plans to expand to 500 employees, all with an average salary above $100,000, she added.

“The point being,” continued Quigley, “if Texas wants a company, Texas is going to get a company, especially if the only other place they’re looking at is Nevada.”

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: info@nevadacurrent.com. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Nevada Current under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.