Las Vegas. Reading it. Hearing it. Saying it. The idea provokes all kinds of images, thoughts and opinions. Drinking, gaming, partying for some. Maybe shopping, dining and luxury hotels for others. When I hear the words, however, for me, it conjures up an image of home. Many of my readers know I grew up here. And, not like transplanted grew up here, like I was actually born here. For a long time, that was a big WOW factor for many whenever I revealed that information. It seems now I am meeting more and more people who are just like me. Born and raised. (Of course, they are getting younger, and I am getting older!)
In fact, many refer to Las Vegas as a big city with a small town feel. Once you start chatting with local folks, you are bound to run into six degrees of separation. Especially if their families have been in Las Vegas for some time now. It has been remarkable to be a part of the many changes that have occurred in our great city over the past decades. Some good, some not so good. Some have personally affected my family and friends in both prosperity and loss. I have seen people and companies come and go and use Vegas as if it were a Get-Rich-Quick scheme. When the resources were all dried up, off to the next best thing. Leaving huge projects unfinished. Buildings vacant. Residents homeless. Small business owners bankrupt. People unemployed. During the Housing Bubble and Economic Crisis in 2008, I witnessed many flee the city to find a job or affordable housing. Though a life lesson in history, it was not a fun time to be a resident of the Entertainment Capital of the World.
Despite the ups and downs, my husband and I, and our families still call Las Vegas home. As do many of the people in our community whose names we grew to respect and appreciate as they worked diligently to create a city we would all be proud to call home. I am confident to say I am one of Las Vegas’ biggest fans. I want this city to sustain. I want to see it succeed. I remember when I was younger, watching the national news, and major cities around the country would be highlighted for weather or news reports. I never understood why Las Vegas wasn’t important to the rest of the country. I mean, people came here to have a good time, and enjoy what our city offered. It took me until I was in college to realize that no one really cared about Las Vegas- or at least, they didn’t regard it highly as a place to raise a family and provide a decent life. You didn’t live the American Dream out in Las Vegas. You just went there as a place to enhance your version of the American Dream. Or blow off steam when the American Dream was becoming too stressful. It wasn’t really a place of interest for most people, who thought residents all worked for the casinos and lived in the hotels. Imagine what it is like to be asked, “Are there churches in Las Vegas?”, “Are there schools there?”, “Do people live in houses?”. Given our reputation, I suppose these questions made sense, but it is definitely not the Las Vegas I know. Nor is it the Las Vegas I want my children to know.
The Las Vegas Perspective is an annual event every citizen of Las Vegas should have an interest in. It is an annual perspective of where we have been the year prior, and where we are headed. Prominent business persons and analysts take the time to research and compare our current state to that of the nation. Industry topics, such as gaming and technology, are discussed, as are housing, education and general statistics about the people who make up our community. It is information that is shared with and made available to the general public on the Las Vegas Perspective website.
This year’s perspective, held at The Four Season’s Las Vegas, delivered a chance for optimism to a city that has needed it for years. A refreshing and inspiring outlook on where Las Vegas stands as the leader in the nation’s gaming industry; being the example of how this new revolution of on-line gaming will complement the efforts of Las Vegas already known for world class tourism. The housing market is starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Employment is up a teeny tiny bit. Overall, the feeling of pessimism is beginning to shift to that of a positive outlook for the future of our city. The theme being, “Wired for the Future,” showing Las Vegas as a savvy market city that knows how to reinvent itself by staying connected to future trends by being forward thinking.
What I took away from the Las Vegas Perspective? It is time to reinvest in our community. It is time to start waving the Las Vegas flag proudly. It is time to demand the respect from the rest of the country as a place for Fortune 500 businesses, talented people and smart investors to establish their base and grow their companies here. How do we do that? Take a look around. It’s starting already. Remarkable facilities such as The Smith Center of the Performing Arts, along with the new Discovery Children’s Museum, are proving there is room for families here. Companies such as zappos.com and Switch showing there are people in this city worth hiring and investing in. We have the capability to make UNLV the premier destination for education in gaming, tourism, business, dentistry, and law. But, we have to take a stand as a community, and make it happen.
What I heard from all three speakers that day was that it starts with our youth. It starts with their education. It starts with our education system. Providing a top notch education attracts those people we need to help grow and sustain our fabulous city. I don’t think we are that far gone. This is all within our reach. Instead of viewing Las Vegas as a transient town, where people come and go and do little to involve themselves, let’s try another approach. If your kids go to school here, wouldn’t you want to provide them with the best education possible? I have noticed more families coming into the city. They come from all over the country. Many of them from other great cities with impressive schooling systems, and a strong understanding of how arts and culture factor into the livelihood of our future. This immigration, in turn, puts a demand on the facilities that are available to the people here. When we have this set in motion, we are golden. We become a national newsworthy city.
The CCSD is a whole other blog post, but what I hoped to achieve with all this talk is some spark of inspiration to be proud of where we live. Get people excited about what is happening here, and, be, “Wired for the Future.” Whatever your role in our community, every person counts. Let’s make it count together!
I have the opportunity to offer one of my readers a copy of the Las Vegas Perspective 2013. A comprehensive report of a community wide survey of Southern Nevada residents. The Las Vegas Perspective also acts as a directory for events, businesses, government facilities and more.
Do you want a look at the Las Vegas Perspective?
Tell me how you are connected to the Las Vegas community? What inspires you the most about our great city? What actions are you or do you take to better our city?