Sunday, March 26, 2017

Vegas black business void being filled by fanciful notions

September 12, 2015 by Las Vegas Black Image Magazine  
Filed under Conversation

BY LOUIE OVERSTREET

Louie Overstreet

The Black business community in Las Vegas has been in a death spiral since the middle of the last decade. That spiral was greased by the economic downturn that followed in 2008, making the decline even more precipitous.

Other contributing factors were failed political leadership; potential conflicts for persons serving on the boards of advocacy organizations; ill-equipped and inexperienced persons attempting to manage business operations; and an overall lack of business capacity.

Beyond a dozen or so viable businesses providing employment with gross revenues between mid-six to low-eight figures, I challenge anyone to refute the veracity of my statement.

When Gene Collins and Stan Washington challenged a planned gaming merger by MGM back in 2000, it created a climate in which the industry was embarrassed into creating diversity-focused employment and contracting initiatives. For the first five years of the new millennium, there were noticeable opportunities being realized in the gaming industry. However, while these opportunities were being created in the private sector, public sector contracting remained at dismal levels -— as documented by two separate disparity studies commissioned by the state’s largest contracting entity, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT).

While I haven’t checked it out firsthand, I have received calls from people lamenting the fact that, given the dire straits in our own community, some folks are talking about organizing a trade mission to Nigeria. My response, cleaned up for a family audience: “You have got to be (kidding) me!”

Given how politically and economically impotent we are in Las Vegas, who in their right mind would believe the fanciful notion that we could travel more than 7,500 miles to generate opportunities for black businesses based in Las Vegas? The trade mission surely would not even have enough cash on hand to pay off the first corrupt politician certain to greet the plane at Lagos International Airport.

The moral of the story: the current group of politicians, business leaders and advocates must get their act together, and a good first step would be devising practical ideas for creating business opportunities here at home. If not, our business community will move off the endangered species list, and onto the extinct list alongside the dinosaur and dodo bird.

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