The Young Entrepreneur Transforming Las Vegas That You Haven't Heard Of

You've likely heard of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s plans to revitalize downtown Las Vegas in advance of his company's relocation there. Whitney Pastorek profiles one young entrepreneur that's already making a difference in the neighborhood.
June 15, 2012, 10am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Much has been made of Tony Hsieh's planned $350 million investment in revitalizing downtown Las Vegas in advance of his company's relocation to the neighborhood next year. But others have been hard at work altering the trajectory of the area beneath the national spotlight. Pastorek profiles one of these leaders -- Alex Epstein, the daughter of the owner of downtown's historic El Cortez Hotel and Casino -- who's "changing the neighborhood by making it younger, supporting the arts, and giving back to the community."

While some of her efforts have focused at home, by renovating the casino's properties to attract "next-gen Vegas," many of her efforts have involved reaching out to the broader downtown community.  

According to Pastorek, "She opened the El Cortez parking lot to Vegas StrEATS (a regular food truck gathering), sponsors and hosts events during First Friday (the city's monthly art and music festival), and was instrumental in the founding of Downtown Cares, a philanthropic initiative that rallied 200 people to overhaul a local senior center last fall and has its eyes set on renovating the courtyard of a local public school at the end of June."

"Historically, the [casino-owning] corporations in Las Vegas have always been very charitable," Epstein says. "We don't have as many cash resources to be philanthropic in that way, but we're really engaged in the community, and what we lack in funds we more than make up for in hard work and dedication. Downtown and East Fremont get a lot of attention in the press, but half a mile away there's these neighborhoods that are not getting the same care. We wanted to give back to them." 

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Published on Thursday, June 14, 2012 in Fast Company Co.Exist
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