Updated January 6, 2022 - 7:33 pm
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman — a consummate promoter of the city as a world-class destination — touted economic development progress to signal its vitality during the annual State of the City address Thursday, saying little about a resurgent pandemic.
In her 11th annual presentation to constituents — the second in a row held virtually due to public health considerations — Goodman made the case for what makes Las Vegas “unique and so successfully strong.”
Most of Goodman’s speech was dedicated to highlighting a prosperous downtown, transportation initiatives and individual projects occurring in each of her six fellow lawmakers’ wards.
As the omicron coronavirus variant spreads, and as both the state and Clark County registered their highest COVID-19 test positivity rates of the pandemic Thursday, Goodman focused more on the city’s resiliency to recover its battered economy as restrictions have eased.
“While there are new scares today, we have already seen a boost to travel numbers flying in from abroad which confirms the renewed vigor and excitement that Las Vegas promotes and enjoys,” she said.
Although the variant is driving surges in hospitalization rates, it is believed to be less severe than other variants before it.
More than a half-hour into her roughly 50-minute speech, Goodman underscored that the city has been a “leader” in responding to the region’s homelessness crisis. The first phase of the city’s expanded Courtyard Homeless Resource Center opened this month, and a new care facility has resulted in more than 56 percent of patients being housed after discharge, she said.
Goodman also noted that the city has served 850 families through food distribution partnerships and it delivered more than $40 million in federal rental assistance to date. She said the city hoped to soon disperse $130 million in federal dollars it received through the American Rescue Plan Act.
“Our days and our funding are directed to those caught in the tornado of shutdowns, job loss and overwhelming financial crisis,” she said.
Mayor ‘beyond bullish’ for 2022
Goodman offered a highly optimistic outlook on 2022 as she outlined how the city’s positivity, diversity, innovation and ambition had allowed it to be “an extremely strong force in welcoming tourists back to our city.”
“The name Las Vegas is certainly the most valuable brand on the entire planet,” she said.
She said the city was “beyond bullish” about its future, which includes booming downtown neighborhoods and getting closer to the completion of the city’s largest infrastructure undertaking ever: The Las Vegas Boulevard Improvement project, expected to be finished in spring 2023.
She also noted the positive impact of major league sports teams in Las Vegas, although each is located outside of city limits in unincorporated Clark County, and hinted at the possibility of more to come.
“The crystal ball keeps turning in motion for our next long-term visions of bringing Major League Soccer, the NBA and perhaps even Major League Baseball into Las Vegas in the near future,” she said.
As Goodman struck a positive tone in a speech that appeared to be aimed at both locals and would-be travelers — tourism remains the region’s bread and butter — she also used the opportunity to urge federal and state officials to use some of the $1 trillion infrastructure package to expand jammed lanes on Interstate 15 between Las Vegas and Barstow.
“Wake up,” she said. “This is a critical national economic and safety issue.”
Last month, Gov. Steve Sisolak and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the temporary addition of a third lane on southbound I-15 into California, although that project covers only a short distance into the Golden State.