As Las Vegas rebounds from virus, community’s input needed

September 2, 2021

Cedric's article in the newspaper

By Cedric Crear

Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 | 2 a.m.

Editor’s note: Following a longstanding tradition, Brian Greenspun turned over his Where I Stand column to others in August. Today, we continue to present columns submitted by those guests. In presenting this year’s series of columns from community leaders, we feel it is important that our readers, trying to emerge from the ravages of the pandemic, hear from some of the people who can help guide us to better tomorrows. Today’s guest is Cedric Crear, a Las Vegas city councilman and candidate for Las Vegas mayor. Prior to his election to the City Council, Crear served simultaneously as university regent and as a Las Vegas planning commissioner. He is the founder and CEO of Crear Advertising.

The past year and a half have been the most challenging our community has ever faced. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare all that is lacking in Las Vegas’ social safety net and our tourism-centric economy. Workers have been permanently displaced from their jobs by the thousands. Tens of thousands more of our neighbors are facing an imminent eviction. And this does not even consider the tremendous toll COVID has taken from public health.

While these challenges have been truly daunting, they have provided the opportunity for Las Vegas to reinvent itself ­— and to cure itself along the way. Billion-dollar efforts are underway to beat back COVID-19 and its variants, retrain and “upskill” displaced working people, and to finally diversify our economy after decades of trying.

Las Vegas has proven itself to be one of the most resilient communities in America. We have rebounded stronger than ever before, and we will do so again in 2021. Why am I so sure? Because of the people who call this city home. From doctors and nurses to first responders and teachers, from front-line workers to resort employees, we have come together like never before for the common good. We have made tremendous progress in our recovery, but we must remain diligent in the battle against COVID. I applaud everyone who has become fully vaccinated and I will continue to urge those who have not to please get the shot!

The rebirth of Las Vegas, coming back stronger than ever, will require more than just public health measures, however. Our economy was shattered in the early days of the pandemic, and we have worked tirelessly to bring back the casino industry and hundreds of thousands of jobs. But so many of our neighbors were laid off in 2020 from jobs that will never return. Among my highest priorities as councilman, and if I am fortunate enough to be elected as your next mayor, is the retraining and upskilling of these permanently displaced working people.

In Ward 5, the area I represent as councilman, my advocacy efforts led to the acquisition of $11 million, in partnership with the College of Southern Nevada, for the Westside’s first-of-its-kind advanced workforce training center. The Westside Workforce Center will serve as the catalyst for training the future workforce in advanced manufacturing and other lucrative careers that will allow these residents, who have faced the most dire circumstances in their lives, to reemerge with a sustainable career and the opportunity to truly live the American dream. Phase one of our workforce initiatives have already begun with the opening of the Strong Future Technology Center powered by the Cox Innovation Lab, which is training community members in high-paying, entry level positions in the tech fields.

The Workforce Center is just the start of my comprehensive plan to diversify and strengthen Las Vegas’ economy. This has been an aspiration of the Las Vegas City Council ever since the 1980s, but now it is really happening. Be assured, I will not rest until we achieve the goal, and Las Vegas takes its rightful place as America’s greatest city in which to live and raise a family.

More help is on the way in the form of the American Rescue Plan. The city of Las Vegas is currently reaching out to its residents across all media platforms, and through in-person town halls, to get at the essence of what the people really need and desire as we reimagine Las Vegas for future generations. More than $200 million will be spent in Las Vegas alone over the coming few years. My promise to you, as councilman and, hopefully, as your mayor, is to spend every penny in a way that bolsters the community and improves the quality of life for those less fortunate. We will invest in infrastructure, broadband expansion and improved educational opportunities ,along with fighting back the COVID-19 variants that threaten to derail our recovery.

I love Las Vegas. I was born and raised in the heart of our great city, and I raised my own family in the very same home in which I grew up. No one is more devoted to the city and its people than me. In fact, I am aiming to become Las Vegas’ first “Vegas Born” mayor, and its first African American mayor as well. The campaign will be historic, but first we have to focus on building back a better Las Vegas. Together, we will work and strive to make our city a beacon of inclusivity, opportunity and prosperity. I hope you will join the movement as we strive to improve the lives of all of Las Vegas’ people, regardless of their economics and demographics.

For me, that is the American dream in action.

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