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Let’s go to VEGAS

If you haven’t heard about what’s happening in Downtown Las Vegas lately, you may be living under a rock. There’s a massive renovation happening through Downtown Project. While the $350 million dollars backing the project is exciting in and of itself, there’s something much bigger than the money involved.

When I visited Vegas last November, I got to attend the first-ever Catalyst Week sessions with speakers including Michael Uslan, executive producer of Batman; Nyla Rogers of Mama Hope, and Dan Fredinburg from Google. As I sat in the Construction Zone, a shipping container that hosts the speaker series, I had a feeling similar to ones I experienced as I sat in the then, only campus for Life Church, in 1999 with around 200 people. It was the feeling of community…passionate people coming together to be a part of something bigger. I then had a realization that the Downtown Project is going to be just as big as Life Church, which is now known as LifeChurch.tv and has 16 campuses in 5 states of passionate people coming together on a weekly basis.

The Downtown Project mission states:

We are a group of passionate people committed to helping to transform Downtown Las Vegas into the most community-focused large city in the world. We are doing that by inspiring and empowering people to follow their passions to create a vibrant, connected urban core.

We’ve allocated $350 million to aid in the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas. We’re investing $200 million in real estate, $50 million in small businesses, $50 million in education, and $50 million in tech startups through the VegasTech Fund.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

As my visit continued in November, I got to meet up with friends who now lived in the downtown area and heard their passion as they talked about why they relocated from places like San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Chicago. It’s a passion that can’t be faked or contained and is contagious.

Part of my visit included a tour of the Downtown Project through Tony Hsieh’s apartment which serves as a HQ of sorts for Downtown Project. There is an entire room that outlines upcoming plans for the renovation, showcases the companies funded by the project, and has a ‘wish list wall’ of post-it notes from the community of things they’d like to see as a part of downtown Las Vegas. As I stood looking at sketches of the soon-to-be Container Park, I had another gut feeling; one I’ve experienced before when I stood at Twin Peaks during my first visit to San Francisco in 2007. As I stood overlooking the entire city of SF, I knew I would soon call the “City by the Bay” my home.

I had this same feeling standing in Tony’s apartment that day in November and it scared the shit out of me.

I explored that feeling for a few weeks, but as 2013 started, business got busy and it got pushed aside and ignored, until another visit I had to downtown Las Vegas just 2 weeks ago. It came back and this time I listened as I was surrounded by the growth of Downtown Project and downtown Las Vegas in just a few short months. New businesses, new restaurants and bars, new community members all around.

And in those moments, I made the decision that I’m moving to downtown Las Vegas.

To answer the questions that have already come up as I’ve shared with a few people, yes–I’m still running my business, Reinventing Events, and no–we are not receiving funding from Downtown Project. As I said at the beginning of this post, it’s not about the money. This is about something much bigger than that…

I’ll be in Las Vegas by July 1 and if anyone wants to come visit, my guest room will be available. ProTip–Downtown Las Vegas has a magical power and you may end up moving out soon after. You’ve been warned.

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