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Las Vegas Urged to Think Ahead During Slow Down

April 6, 2010

LAS VEGAS - Business may be slow now, but a new study by the Sonoran Institute projects that Las Vegas could grow by another half million people before long... And it says a half dozen critical issues need to be addressed to deal with that growth. Looking back, the study says the valley was built on rapid and almost uninterrupted growth.

But Launce Rake, communication director with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) says the prospect is very different looking to the future.

"Las Vegas is limited; we're limited in land, we're limited in air quality, our air shed; we're limited in water, and we've got a real issue we need to look at with electricity, as well."

The study says the local economy is highly concentrated in hospitality and construction, and it recommends improving educational opportunities to ensure a well-qualified work force and economic diversity.

The executive director of the Nevada Conservation League, Scot Rutledge, says this is a study that both business and lawmakers can get behind, because it does not try to slam the brakes on all growth.

"We're going to have to show them that a business community can get behind this proposal; this is about creating the type of development that our community wants, and it's going to create a sustainable long-term community both economically and ecologically."

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani says the current economic slowdown presents a real opportunity to re-think how Las Vegas should grow in the years ahead.

"Now, we've seen the devastation of relying on simply construction in the long run; so how do we create construction opportunities? New training for folks, we're doing that through our weatherization models. So, there are some construction jobs, there's just not the volume that you had on building a high-rise, for example."

The Sonoran Institute study was commissioned by PLAN and the Sierra Club. Titled "Saving the Future of the West," the study is on the Web at www.sonoraninstitute.org

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV