Las Vegas Chamber unveils new name, tech startup initiative
The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce is changing its name and rolling out new efforts to help the valley’s budding startup businesses — and possibly sign them as members.
Now called the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, the business association on Wednesday unveiled the new name and its “JumpStart Vegas” initiative.
Chamber officials will try to connect local tech entrepreneurs with lawyers, accountants and other chamber members who can help them with their business plans.
New Chairman James A. “Jay” Barrett Jr. announced the changes at a luncheon at the Four Seasons hotel on the Strip.
Barrett, the founder and president of the JABarrett Co., a financial advisory firm on West Russell Road, near the 215 Beltway, was sworn in as chairman Wednesday. He replaces Kevin Orrock, president of the Summerlin master-planned community for developer Howard Hughes Corp.
In remarks laced with theater references — he referred to chamber members as “actors,” said they need to “invigorate the script” and that the “stage is set” to boost the economy — Barrett said the chamber would continue advocating for pro-business policies during his tenure. Like most of his predecessors, he is expected to serve as chairman for a year.
He also said the 6,000-member group would keep working to bolster the Las Vegas Regional Economic Development Council, the business advocacy group formerly known as the Nevada Development Authority, which the chamber helped form this year.
Barrett briefly outlined JumpStart Vegas, describing it as a “support system” for local startups that would also involve economic development and higher education officials. The goal, he said, is to ensure that Las Vegas’ burgeoning tech sector is “not a fad” and will instead be a permanent, growing part of the economy.
“Are you in this with me?” he asked the audience at the end of his speech.
“Let’s raise the curtain and get on with the show. This is it.”
More details about JumpStart are expected to be announced next month, though chamber officials aim to create a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs in need of some help, spokeswoman Cara Roberts said. This could include finding potential investors, leasing office space or getting legal and tax advice, she said.
As part of its efforts, Roberts said, the chamber will work with UNLV officials as well as tech executives tied to the Downtown Project. The group also will work the “inNEVation Center,” a 40,000-square-foot working space for entrepreneurs slated to open next year. Rob Roy, founder of data-center operator Switch, designed the center.
The chamber will get input from a 10-person entrepreneurial council, whose members include local startup founders and VegasTechFund partner Andy White, whose $50 million investment group includes Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and other executives from the online retail powerhouse. The council had its first meeting last month, said Adam Kramer, the chamber’s director of entrepreneurship and Vegas young professionals.
Roberts said the first goal of JumpStart is to help entrepreneurs grow their companies, though it will also let them interact with the chamber and “find value” in being a member.
Meanwhile, the group’s name change comes about two months after it merged with the North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, which had about 500 members.
Roberts said the merger partly motivated the rebranding.
“The name really reflects what we are in the region,” she said.