Vegas, Baby!

Rolling the Dice

Despite their worries, most entrepreneurs in Sin City are relatively upbeat about the future of their businesses, and of Vegas itself. "It can be hard to plan for the future, and the city is definitely becoming very competitive, but what other cities in America wouldn't want this type of growth?" asks Olson. What's more, Olson notes, Goodman and other leaders are working hard to address quality of life issues. Though libertarian Nevada historically favors weak governments, Goodman and his aggressive lieutenants have developed clean-air initiatives, and the mayor has dedicated his term to redeveloping the city's downtown into a cultural center. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Board of Education has embarked upon the most aggressive school-building campaign in the country.

Many believe the city's inherent advantages--an entrepreneurial spirit, no taxes and a warm climate--almost guarantee a positive future. "Even now," says Bishop, "with Vegas' economy slowing, if I call someone in Nebraska in December and suggest they come to Vegas where we're barbecuing at Christmas time, to take a job or open a business, they'll listen to me."

Feeling Lucky?
Recent Vegas arrivals suggest that businesspeople considering moving to Sin City use several strategies.
  • Extra, Extra: Before moving to Vegas, many entrepreneurs read the online edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal or the Las Vegas Business Press,/i>, the two newspapers with the best business coverage. Both have columns on commercial real estate, the labor market and other issues important to entrepreneurs.
  • Night Owls: Entrepreneurs should also think about whether they are willing to work late-night shifts, especially if they are in industries that supply goods to casinos. Even businesses unrelated to the casino industry are expected to remain open late in Vegas: Mark Olson of Olson/Ballard Communications once had a dentist appointment at 10 p.m.
  • Call the Bankers: Though lending has dried up a bit in Las Vegas over the past year, many banks and other lenders such as the SBA's Community Express program are still extending credit. However, Sharolyn Craft of the Nevada Small Business Development Center notes that loan criteria in Vegas have always been conservative, especially for recent arrivals, since so many fail and leave town. Entrepreneurs should visit Vegas and schedule appointments with lenders before deciding whether to move to Nevada.

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This article was originally published in the December 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Vegas, Baby!.

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