Can an Innovator Fix Downtown Las Vegas?

Image representing Tony Hsieh as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

What Happens in Brooklyn Moves to Vegas
Timothy Pratt
NYTimes.com

We have a great deal of faith in entrepreneurs here at the Bull Moose. At the same time, we’ve made no secret of our belief that business acumen does not necessarily translate into the skills required to run a government.

That said, Timothy Pratt’s feature in today’s New York Times Magazine about Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh‘s vision to transform downtown Las Vegas through his Downtown Project offers an interesting approach. Will Hsieh’s efforts work? Perhaps: he’s leading with human capital rather than infrastructure, a unique approach that Harvard economist Edward Glaeser suggests is the proper approach.

What seems a little light is the longer-term vision. Hsieh is putting into place something that is likely to work for 5-10 years, but what does it do for the city over the long term? How does Hsieh’s vision turn Las Vegas into something more than a desert railroad junction surrounded by casinos? The grand difference between a transaction-driven businessman and a vison-driven statesman is the distance to the horizon.

Hsieh’s Downtown Project is worth watching, not just to see if his approach bears fruit, but to see if his vision evolves with his success.

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