Las Vegas Sun

April 19, 2019

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Where I Stand:

Las Vegas is the City of Reinvention

As he does every summer, Brian Greenspun is taking some time off and is turning over his Where I Stand column to others. Today’s guest columnist is Mark Frissora, CEO and president of Caesars Entertainment.

Las Vegas has been my home now for more than three years. A lot has changed since I moved here in 2015 to take the reins at Caesars Entertainment and lead the company through a major restructuring. While the challenges of a CEO role were not new to me, I was new to the gaming industry, and living in Las Vegas was unfamiliar.

I soon learned that this city, much like the industry that drives it, moves pretty swiftly. The years seem to quickly pile on top of each other, as do the number of projects. At Caesars, we successfully emerged from restructuring and have begun investing in some exciting developments here in Las Vegas, including breaking ground on the $375 million Caesars Forum conference center that will open in 2020 and creating Nevada’s first full-service production studio with Sidekick Productions, Caesars Entertainment Studios. While we’re investing in our hometown, we are also now poised to expand globally and have already started entering, expanding and even creating new markets that bring economic and social benefits to people and communities in different parts of the world. These include plans to bring our Caesars brand to developments in Dubai and Mexico, pursuing developments in Japan and, domestically, acquiring valuable gaming assets in Indiana.

After some lean years during the recession, Las Vegas — like Caesars Entertainment — is now back at full throttle. Cranes are up in the air along the Strip, the biggest names in entertainment now boast Las Vegas residency deals, and we have officially become a professional sports town. While Las Vegas has long been hailed as the Entertainment Capital of the World, I believe a better moniker for might now be the City of Reinvention. At a little more than three years in, I know one thing for certain about my adopted home: Las Vegas is constantly changing and ever evolving.

One thing that hasn’t changed in my time here, and I don’t anticipate ever will, is the need for corporations like Caesars Entertainment to take an active role in addressing those issues in the community that aren’t so desirous to shine a spotlight on; issues of major social challenges facing the city. At Caesars, we believe our tremendous progress is underpinned by our approach to corporate responsibility. We are driven, as a company and as individual team members, to operate ethically, inclusively, authentically and in ways that help us all live better lives.

We take our programs around corporate responsibility seriously. In fact, of our many accomplishments, these initiatives are some of which I am most proud. This year, we gained approval from an outside prestigious governing body for very challenging science-based targets to combat climate change; introduced a holistic framework to food management and waste that will address food and nutrition security and encourages local supply; reframed our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion; and, here in Nevada, are collaborating across groups to advance far-reaching solutions to pressing social issues like homelessness, countertrafficking and immigration.

These issues are complex, and there are no simple solutions to address them. That’s why we believe we must apply the same innovative thinking that has helped Las Vegas evolve and grow its core industry toward tackling our most pressing social problems. Working with ImpactNV, a nonprofit catalyst organization dedicated to a more sustainable future in Southern Nevada, Caesars has helped stage several multipartner, multisector workshops designed to identify intersections of major social challenges facing the city. The purpose of these meetings is to develop a social sustainability master plan blueprint, or essentially a plan to make life in Southern Nevada better. Collaborating with cities, Clark County, nongovernmental organizations and other gaming-hospitality and service providers, we have identified long-term goals to address three of our most urgent and complex challenges: homelessness, countertrafficking and immigration.

Addressing these challenges will require systemic solutions that rely upon extensive alignment, resources and regulatory expectations. As a corporation whose future success blends with and relies upon a happy, healthy and productive local community, we take the longer-term, broader and higher purpose view of our role in local society and how we can make life better.

As the City of Reinvention, it’s time Las Vegas put its great entrepreneurial minds to work developing new and modern solutions to long-standing social challenges. So often, this city has served a beacon of new trends in hospitality. Working together, we can also come to represent a model for crafting creative solutions to improve our community and the lives of all who live here.