Las Vegas and Reno are investing in more than just their gaming industries. These communities are creating environments and pooling resources to help entrepreneurs launch enterprises. Downtown Project (DTP) is a $350-million investment helping with the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas.
“The goal and purpose of DTP is to help make Downtown Las Vegas a place of inspiration, entrepreneurial energy, creativity, innovation, upward mobility and discovery,” says Maria Phelan, director of public relations for Downtown Project.
Downtown Project is an umbrella organization that functions as the equivalent of a holding company and encompasses a collection of various investments across small business, technology and real estate. Since it was founded in 2012, Downtown Project has created more than 900 new jobs and invested in more than 165 businesses.
“In addition to making investments in startups through VegasTechFund and non-tech small businesses through the small business fund, DTP’s support office provides resources in the form of assistance with finance, HR, marketing, operating and other needs,” says Phelan. “DTP doesn’t tell business owners how to run their business. Rather, we provide support and coaching.”
Rob Roy, founder and CEO of data center firm Switch, donated the Innevation Center in Las Vegas to the community. The center is a 65,000-sq.-ft. (6,000-sq.-m.) collaborative workspace and community event venue, designed to assist local entrepreneurs. While the Innevation Center does not provide any direct financial support for startup companies, what it provides is a collaborative workspace that members of the community can use to work and host events.
Playing the Game
Startups outside of the Las Vegas area are finding other avenues for getting their projects funded. Spin Games has been around for almost four years. The company employs 44 people and started out in Reno, with assistance from Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), as a gaming content and gaming technology business. “We’re currently operating on about 12 casino sites in America, and we’ll be expanding into Europe by the end of this year,” says Kent Young, CEO of Spin Games.
When asked if the company would expand in Nevada, Young states that he fully intends to. “There’s a really good community here in Reno of other people who have done startups and small business,” says Young. “And that really helps. There are a lot of tax benefits to being in Nevada because there’s no corporate income tax, so that really helps.”“Our future economic goals are to continue to grow our advanced manufacturing sector and our startup ecosystem while we accommodate the exciting growth we are experiencing,” says Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of EDAWN, “growth we are expecting to continue for several years to come.”
Crystal Villarreal has worked as a public relations coordinator for the healthcare conglomerate, McKesson. Crystal is a published author, who recently released her debut novel. She's also held roles as an editorial assistant for JEZEBEL magazine and worked as a communications specialist for a fashion merchandise company.