Dealing a better hand to business owners of color in Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas is known for expansive gaming halls and hotels, fine dining, and nightlife. But small businesses are also a vital part of the city’s economy, especially off the Strip.
Districts such as downtown Las Vegas, the Fremont East Entertainment District, and Symphony Park are primarily composed of small businesses. You’ll find an eclectic mix of art, food, and retail shops owned by the city’s residents.
Millions of visitors come to Las Vegas every year. In comparison, however, the full-time population is “actually quite small, just 635,000 residents,” said Nalani Aki. Aki is administrator of Neighborhood Revitalization and Community Engagement in the city.
More than a third of Las Vegas residents are Hispanic or Latino, and 12% are Black or African American. Yet, within the local business environment, entrepreneurs of color have continually faced challenges. Accessing capital, getting approved for loans, and securing prime locations for their businesses top the list. These obstacles are due to historical and systemic barriers; barriers that Aki says are at the core of change.
“When we talk about entrepreneurship and driving change in our community, we must examine the policies and nuances that have allowed systemic discrimination to continue,” she explained.