Wednesday, April 8, 2009 | 12:32 a.m.
Everyone is pulling for the Las Vegas economy to turn around, and soon.
But forecaster after forecaster is being extra cautious. After all, just a year ago few realized how deep the recession would be both locally and nationally.
The latest to weigh in is longtime local analyst John Restrepo of Restrepo Consulting Group, who offers these sobering thoughts in his March Economic INsight report:
"While the recession continued to worsen in February, there was a dramatic slow down in the rate of job losses compared to what was recorded this January," Restrepo writes. "Even though employment change is a lagging indicator, we continue to believe that we will not see a sustained recovery in our local economy until the job market improves, most likely in late-2010 or early-2011. The issues currently facing our resort industry, and the imminent wave of commercial real estate defaults (that we think will peak in 2010) in Southern Nevada, are very worrisome.''
One of the good things happening locally is companies and their employees continue to step up and maintain their commitment to volunteerism.
A recent example involved workers at Harrah's Entertainment Inc., where some 40 volunteers took to the streets Saturday to deliver free packs of energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs to households in low-income neighborhoods of Las Vegas.
Some 30,000 of the bulbs, donated by NV Energy, were passed out in Las Vegas. Tens of thousands more are going to homes in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Laughlin with the help of Harrah's volunteers in those areas.
"The strength of our environmentally sustainable programs comes from our employees as they continuously develop new ideas to reduce our environmental footprint,'' said Tom Jenkin, Harrah's Western Division president, who added Harrah's has realized significant savings by replacing lighting in its casino resorts.
Spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson said the program worked well for Harrah's because the company has a commitment to improving the environment and for more than a decade has had a formal volunteer program to contribute to communities where it operates called H.E.R.O.s -- or Harrah's Entertainment Reaching Out.
Last year Harrah's employees logged more than 125,000 hours of volunteer work in communities across the country, including some 71,000 hours in Las Vegas alone. Locally, they engage in at least one program a month, she said.
Now, keep an eye out for Earth Day activities to start showing up on your Twitter and Facebook pages. That's on April 22, a Wednesday.
Casino supplier Multimedia Games Inc. of Austin, Texas, said Stephen J. Greathouse and Justin A. Orlando were elected to its board of directors.
Greathouse, 58, has been involved in the Las Vegas hotel and gaming industry for more than 30 years, holding positions at Mandalay Resort Group, Boardwalk Hotel & Casino, Alliance Gaming Corp. and Harrah's Entertainment. Orlando, 38, is a managing director of Dolphin Limited Partnerships, a private firm.
Multimedia provides systems, content and electronic gaming units for Indian and commercial casinos as well as the bingo industry.
The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation is accepting grant applications from families in need of financial support for child health care treatment, services or equipment not covered or not fully covered by their health insurance benefit plans.
UHCCF provides grants to qualified families enrolled in employer-sponsored health coverage, or who have purchased an individual policy, to help pay for child health care services such as speech, physical or occupational therapy, prescriptions, and medical equipment such as wheelchairs, orthotics and hearing aids.
UHCCF said that last year it helped nearly 600 children nationwide whose families were struggling to pay their share of the cost of medically related services and equipment.
"Contributions from UnitedHealth Group employees and people across the country have enabled the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation to help hundreds more children improve their health and quality of life," UHCCF President Matt Peterson said in a statement. "Our goal is to grow the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation grant program so we can assist more families access additional health care services."
Parents and legal guardians may apply for grants of up to $5,000 for child medical services and equipment by completing an online application at www.uhccf.org. The Web site also has grant-application criteria and stories about recently helped children. In addition, visitors can make tax-deductible donations directly online.
Congresswoman Dina Titus is the guest speaker at the first 2009 Nevada Restaurant Association political action committee luncheon April 16 at 11 a.m. at Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab in The Forum Shops at Caesars.
The fundraisers are held throughout the year to raise money for lobbying and to give restaurateurs a chance to meet public officials and to voice their concerns.
For information, see www.nvrestaurants.com or call 878-2313.