Sin City Aims to Become CEO City After losing $34 billion during the pandemic, Las Vegas is luring a new business and real estate mix

 When the pandemic caused Las Vegas to lose $34 billion, the city's economic development arm realized that the hospitality and entertainment hub's lack of diversification was an issue. With rebranding in mind, the group rapidly moved to lure tech, healthcare, and manufacturing companies with tax incentives and new developments.

The result has been a growing number of companies moving their headquarters, or contemplating a move, to Sin City.

“When the industry comes to a dribble or dries up, we really are hurting,” said Tina Quigley, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA). “That's when people have to move away for jobs elsewhere, and when they move away, it's really hard to get them back.”

Now the city is balancing its mission to diversify with a self-awareness of its reputation. LVGEA has pinpointed clean energy, sports, life sciences, and creative and financial technologies as among possible industries to target, Quigley said. All are offshoots of already established sectors or can take advantage of the region's resources.

Nearly 60 companies have received tax incentives for moving or expanding to the region since 2021. That promises to create 8,200 jobs in the greater Vegas area over the next two to five years, according to LVGEA.

In addition to the local lures, the state offers incentives such as an abatement of up to 50% for four years if your quarterly payroll is over $50,000 and reduced taxes on respective capital investments each of at least $1 billion, and of $3.5 billion.

Fintech firms Paysign, Sightline Payments, Everi, Shift4 Payments, and Pavilion Payments have all moved their headquarters into the area in recent years — and all deal with the large number of transactions that occur in Vegas.

Healthcare companies such as InfoWerks and HCA Healthcare, which have invested heavily, have also been drawn to the area due to its older residents. All offer a new mix for a city that has long been headquarters to the likes of MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment.

Lithion Battery is opening its second location in the region, and the first of its kind outside of China, largely due to the fact that the world's largest lithium reserve is along the Oregon-Nevada border. Autonomous vehicle companies Halo and Zoox have opened testing facilities due to the state’s lax laws for the vehicles.

Still, Vegas locals are not deluding themselves about becoming a new home for Fortune 500 giants.

“We’re not going to get a lot of major corporate headquarters because we compete against Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Nashville — cities that can just kill us by their workforce,” said David Scherer, a commercial broker with Cushman and Wakefield, based in Las Vegas. “It's about, realistically, what's already here. What types of trees are here where branches can grow off of? And what other relatively new industries can we foster here?”

Steve Hawks, a real estate expert with Platinum Real Estate Professionals, similarly said that Vegas’ growth is focused more on the industrial sector. 

Las Vegas’ industrial sector currently has 18.5 million square feet in the construction pipeline, more than ever before, while vacancy is under 3%, according to a report by commercial brokerage Avison Young. Hawks said that many companies are relocating from next-door California due to more favorable policies and cheaper land. 

10,000 Businesses

In April, aircraft simulation software maker CAE cut the ribbon on a 50,000-square-foot training facility, its first in the region, just 20 minutes away from the Strip.

CAE is one of the 10,000 businesses that have moved to the area in the past decade. It was awarded incentives to create more than 70 jobs at an hourly rate of $57.58, and the center trains 2,000 pilots a year.

The facility’s training center leader Ash Zare said that the area’s talent pool and strategic location attracted the company.

“In some cities, the airport is very far from where the action is. [In Vegas] everything is within a very small radius,” Zare said. 

Such new developments are also expanding Sin City’s borders. 

“We used to ride horses and motorcycles out there. Now it's shopping malls and industrial parks,” Hawks said. 

A 30-minute drive from the Strip, a new planned community hosted a grand opening in August. The area, called Cadence, will eventually have 12,250 residential units and 1.1 million square feet of commercial space. 

Thirty minutes in the opposite direction, Toll Brothers is building a gated community of 246 homes in Skye Canyon.

The new developments, along with the new business mix, have brought different clients to the Vegas market, said local luxury real estate agent Cami Lincowski.

Among those she’s recently worked with are a tech executive, a private jet broker, and the owner of a gold processing facility. 

“In California, these homes can easily go for $10 million,” Lincowski said. “Here, you can get them for $5 million and have it decked out with Strip views and high tech — [the homes] open the doors and turn the lights on for you.”

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