Las Vegas looks to attract Bay Area tech workers with lack of state income tax, more affordable housing

The city's campaign points to 300+ sunny days in Sin City, a lack of state income tax, affordable housing and more.

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Thursday, November 12, 2020
Las Vegas looks to attract Bay Area tech workers
Beyond the Raiders, the City of Las Vegas is launching a campaign to attract remote tech workers from right here in the Bay Area.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Beyond the Raiders, the City of Las Vegas is launching a campaign to attract remote tech workers from right here in the Bay Area.

A 15-second ad shared by the city on Twitter asks, "Are you ready to move?"

The city's campaign points to 300+ sunny days in Sin City, a lack of state income tax, affordable housing and more.


Ryan Smith, the Business Development Manager for the city's Department of Economic and Urban Development detailed the strategy.

"When we're trying to attract different, new types of companies, they look at 'what's your workforce like,' and getting these people to Vegas is extremely important for us," Smith shared.

He said the City of Las Vegas has launched digital marketing ads to the Bay Area and Seattle. They're also implementing a strategic LinkedIn outreach campaign to tech workers at specific companies.

"We're trying to take advantage of the opportunity for remote workers to work anywhere," Smith told ABC7 News. "We're really targeting technology. Las Vegas lags the United States in the number of technology workers in the city. So, we're trying to bridge that gap and get those people to move to Las Vegas."

"If we're able to get technology workers, Las Vegas will have a better chance at landing some of the bigger or different technology companies as well," he added.

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Many frustrated residents are leaving California to live in states with looser stay-at-home regulations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Smith said pre-pandemic, Las Vegas was already seeing a wave of new residents from the Golden State. He believes the pandemic has accelerated the appetite to move.

"The homes that you can get in Las Vegas and other markets, compared to what you can get in California is astronomically different," he said. "So from a quality of life perspective, I think Vegas has a competitive advantage."

Smith also pointed to accessibility. He explained, a 50-minute flight separates Las Vegas from San Francisco.

"I think a lot of the tech companies have said working post-pandemic is going to be different," he shared. "Maybe it's not completely remote work. Some companies haven't announced permanent remote work, but I think that being able to fly back to San Fran or Silicon Valley, or Seattle easily from Vegas is also compelling."

This wouldn't be the first time a city outside California has attempted to capitalize on the cost of living, and freedom and flexibility of remote work.

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Back in September, ABC7 News reported on "Tulsa Remote," which aimed to do much of the same.

For the City of Las Vegas, Smith said any move would diversify its economy.

"The reason why we've had very high unemployment in 2009, and then obviously during the pandemic is because we're so reliant upon gaming," he shared. "Even though we're technically not creating a new job- a new opportunity for a current resident, we're bringing someone in who has steady employment."

However, San Jose State University professor and cybersecurity expert Ahmed Banafa doesn't expect this trend will last.

"You cannot replace the original Silicon Valley, period," Banafa told ABC7 News.

A transplant himself, he explained the allure of Bay Area innovation is enough to keep tech workers put.

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"I told my friends back in Pennsylvania, 'Sell everything. I'm not coming back. I'm staying here in California,'" he said about his move in 1996. "Every 10 years, we have a new thing coming and it just reignites the whole interest in the Silicon Valley."

"We will have some challenges from time to time, but the Silicon Valley is the Silicon Valley, and it's going to stay the Silicon Valley forever," he shared.

Smith said he's a believer that the work environment many were used to was already beginning to change, pre-pandemic.

"I think there will always be that need for human connection and culture, and these companies are extremely important," Smith said. "But I think it'll be strategic, from a company perspective, on how they do it. They'll look at where a lot of people are moving. Given the opportunity, they may put satellite offices and things in those places."

Banafa shared, "If you move to an area where the cost of living is low, they're going to lower your salary. This is a price they have to think about."

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"For the savings that you would have from a living perspective, from even a state income tax perspective, you could fly to San Francisco when you need to, and you can still be a part of that core corporate culture," Smith maintained. "So, I think that it will last."

"From my own perspective, if we lose some, we will gain more," Banafa told ABC7 News. "This is the birthplace for every single new invention you think about. This is the headquarters for all the big names. You will have few people leaving because of financial reasons or because of family, or other things, but you're not going to see this exodus of people just leaving an empty Silicon Valley."

"Silicon Valley is the most attractive destination for tech people," he said.

Still, Las Vegas leaders are convinced the post-COVID work structure will allow many to settle in Sin City.

"We have one of the best airports in the country. We're super connected. We have affordable housing. We have professional sports- we have the Raiders. So really, we're evolving into a complete city," Smith explained. "There's so much to do in Vegas, there's so many restaurants you can go to. You can hike, you can go to Mount Charleston and ski."

"If you don't like it, you can always leave because your company allows you to. But I think that when people come here, they're going like it and they're going to stay," he added.

For more information on the campaign launched recently by the City of Las Vegas, click here.