Colorful places, and colorful people bringing creative innovation – this is the new downtown Las Vegas. For the past five days, the Nineteenth Amendment team has been learning and living the vision of Downtown Project, a group of people committed to making downtown Las Vegas into the largest cultural and community centered city in the world. DTP has a commitment of $350 million to restore old downtown Las Vegas, from Las Vegas Boulevard to 8th Street and Stuart Street to 95. Of that money, $200 million is going to real estate and residential commitments, $50 million to tech startups ($39 so far!), $50 million for art, culture, and education, and the last $50 million into small business development.
So what are they doing in all these areas? They’re partnering with Teach for America to raise the quality of education in the Las Vegas area, starting their own k-12 school based on science and entrepreneurship (!) developing a container park shopping mall for small businesses, and bringing the largest community fenced-in festival (The Life is Beautiful Festival) to downtown. And that’s just naming a few. But where do we start in describing what we appreciate the most about DTP? Well let’s start with the DTP’s three Cs…
Collisions People are the foundation of this project so it’s fitting that one of the DTP goals is to create a place where fortuitous, spontaneous interactions happen frequently. And they aren’t just one time occurrences. In four days, we made more new friends and connections than we can count, by running into people at coffee shops, events, and on the street. In one day we rode the elevator with Tony Hsieh of Zappos and a few hours later we were playing lawn games at a local bar with Peter Kim, the founder of Hudson Jeans!
Co-learning All of these collisions mean knowledge is shared more frequently and this interaction breeds new ideas. DTP has a multitude of co-working spaces (Work in Progress, Stitch Factory, etc.) populated by businesses of all walks of life. Businesses are asked to “pay-forward” the investment they’ve received by giving back to the community. These initiatives, such as the DTLV Speakers Series and First Fridays, are open to anyone in the community and they make learning and self-improvement a part of every-day life. During our stay we gave back to the community by giving a talk on, “Stiletto Strapping”, participating in mentor hours, and giving interviews to local press.
Connectedness The third and most important C is about making sure members of the community support one another. Every startup, small business, and even individual is responsible for demonstrating a Return on Community (ROC). Creating value by giving support, which everyone in the startup world knows is an undervalued and precious commodity.
Though only at 14.5 of their 100 people/square acre goal (which is the happiest population density), DTP and downtown Las Vegas are growing fast! With a five year deadline, the landscape is changing quickly. We have not done justice in explaining all the cool people and thing’s we have seen happening in such a hot place. We’ve had an amazing time meeting and interacting with the local community and have never met a group so passionate, diverse, and supportive. Viva Downtown Las Vegas!