Mayors Promote Cities at Major Retail/Developer Meeting in Las Vegas
By Dave Gatton
June 6, 2005
Mayors from across the country descended on Las Vegas May 20-24, along with 40,000 representatives from commercial and retail developers to cut deals that would result in two-thirds of the industry's investment decisions for the coming year. The mammoth event is part of the International Council of Shopping Centers annual "Leasing Mall," which attracts almost every major retailer and developer in the country.
Conference President Akron Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic, Vice President Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill and Detroit Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick, Chair of the Council for the New American City, represented the Conference in the opening plenary session on a panel moderated by nationally syndicated columnist Mark Shields. Representatives from other local government organizations joined them.
"We are ready to cut deals," said Kilpatrick to the audience of thousands. "Big box, little box, we want to attract investment and we will help you make that investment in our cities," he said.
Plusquellic thanked the shopping centers organization for its strong support of the Community Development Block Grant program and its participation in the Conference's coalition to save the program from proposed elimination by the Bush administration. He highlighted the strong partnership that mayors and the organization had developed over the last three years.
O'Neill spoke about Long Beach's renaissance from the dramatic negative effects of military base closings a decade ago in her city. "You helped us bring the city back," she told the audience. "And for that, I want to sincerely thank you." Long Beach has experienced a dramatic turn around and surge in private sector investment that has reshaped the city.
Sixteen mayors, including Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Stamford (CT) Mayor Dannel Malloy, Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf, and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay participated in a "retail runway" where they described what they, as mayors, were doing to make their cities attractive to investors and retailers.
"We are bullish on cities," Conference Executive Director Tom Cochran told the audience. "We are the new place to do business and invest."
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman described his efforts to shape the city into one of the premiere destinations of the world. Visitors to Las Vegas now spend more money on entertainment venues than on gaming. The mayor will host the 2006 Annual Conference of Mayors in June of next year.
The mayors held their own evening reception May 20 to meet with major retailer and developers from across the country.