Thursday, August 5, 2010

LVW Col: The Upside of The Crash

Here's this week's Las Vegas Weekly column. Enjoy. -sf

Las Vegas’ downturn could have a surprising upside

Last month, after moderating a political debate for a local business group, I stayed to talk with some attendees. One chat stuck with me, an encounter with a laid-off mid-level casino corporation executive whose partner had just also lost his job as a manager of an electronics store that closed.

“Between the two of us, we have four advanced degrees and we’re collecting unemployment,” he groused.

“So why don’t you move somewhere else?” I asked him.

“Oh, we can’t,” he said sadly. “We’re so underwater on our house and the house I had before we moved in together. We’re going to have to tough this out somehow.”

This conversation had a profound, unexpected effect on me: It made me realize the prolonged, brutal recession is both the worst thing that’s ever happened to Southern Nevada and, also, potentially the best thing that’s ever happened to Las Vegas as a community.

Hear me out, please. I’m not in favor of anyone going broke or losing their jobs. Really, I’m not.

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