Southern Nevada - seems an unlikely place to draw over 2 million residents. The area gets on average 4 inches of rain per year making it one of the driest places on Earth. The summers are well over 100 degrees and the winters tend to be cold and windy. It is a harsh environment. Regardless, here are 10 factors which have influenced development making the area not just livable, but a goldmine for investment and a place people are happy to call home.
1: Las Vegas is Spanish for “The Meadows”. The valley had natural springs and abundant wild grasses that attracted the first settlers over 10,000 years ago; the Anasazi and Paiute Indian tribes. In the mid 1800’s the natural springs attracted the LDS Church from Salt Lake City as a midpoint between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.
2: In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s large deposits of gold, silver and other minerals brought miners and investors to Southern Nevada with dreams of great wealth. The abundance of mines and the need for a railroad from Ogden, Utah to Los Angeles brought the Southern Pacific Railroad to establish a hub at what is now Downtown Las Vegas.
3: In 1931 construction began on the Hoover Dam. This brought thousands of construction workers and their families to the area during the Great Recession. The construction boosted the local economy while the majority of the country was suffering under the Depression.
4: 1931 was a milestone years for Southern Nevada. Gambling became legal and the residency requirement was reduced to six weeks for divorce. The fledgling legal gambling industry brought numerous new casinos, mostly backed by the mob from the east.
5: 1941 the United States entered World War II and the war came to Southern Nevada. The U. S. established the Las Vegas Army Air Corps Gunnery School. Shortly after the war the school was renamed Nellis Air Force base and has since become one of the country’s major air force installations bringing thousands of military personnel and their families to Southern Nevada.
6: Howard Hughes came to Las Vegas in the 1960’s and changed the gaming industry forever. He bought numerous casino/hotels and in doing so the mob was forced out. Without organized crime, Las Vegas drew large numbers of tourists from all over the country and internationally. This is often considered the beginning of the Hospitality Industry of Las Vegas, not just gambling. This was accelerated with the opening of The Mirage in 1989 as the first “Mega-Resort” shifting the gaming industry from Downtown to what is now the Las Vegas Strip.
7: The hot weather and over 300 days of sunshine may seem harsh to most people, but not to one segment of the population; seniors. In the 1990’s Del E. Webb brought his successful Sun City Retirement Community to Southern Nevada. It started with Sun City Summerlin on land once owned by Howard Hughes. As time went on Sun City MacDonald Ranch, Anthem and Aliante was added. To this day Southern Nevada is known as one of the top retirement destinations in the country along with Florida, Texas and Arizona.
8: The State of Nevada has no State Income Tax. This makes the state extra inviting to those retirees on fixed incomes and for families getting started on their financial careers.
9: Affordable land for development. Up until the late 1990’s land for residential, commercial and industrial development was relatively plentiful and affordable. This enabled Las Vegas to be the fastest growing city in the country year after year until the Great Recession. As private land became in short supply, developable land was acquired from the Bureau of Land Management.
10: The Cool Factor. Las Vegas is known as the entertainment capital of the world. Gambling, shows, concerts, night clubs, world class restaurants, sporting events and more. Not only are there many people that enjoy living in this environment there are thousands of people that are needed to support the entertainment industry infrastructure.
Southern Nevada remains a development goldmine today. Many thanks to the investors from the past who helped create a thriving environment. Future investors can build on the remarkable and unlikely past and continue to grow our great state.