Thursday, July 9, 2009 | 7:08 p.m.
It hasn't attracted much attention yet locally, but a company called Clearwire is making news in the technology world with an announcement that it's bringing "WiMax" home and mobile Internet and phone services to Las Vegas.
Clearwire officially launches here July 21 with an event at the Town Square mall -- making Las Vegas its fourth major city in a national rollout.
Clearwire Communications LLC of Kirkland, Wash., a subsidiary of Clearwire Corp., calls the WiMax service "CLEAR 4G."
"CLEAR brings to the Las Vegas region the first super-fast mobile Internet service that works as fast on the go as it does at home," the company said.
Tech industry insiders say in blog posts that the service is already up and running in Las Vegas and is available to those in the know.
Backed by investors including Intel Capital, Comcast, Sprint, Google, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, Clearwire looks to be a serious competitor in the local Internet and phone industries.
The service is touted as being more secure than Wi-Fi and is so fast that it competes with standard high-speed Internet. And like Cox Communications, it offers bundled telephone service.
Clearwire on Thursday was offering combined high-speed home and mobile Internet and home voice services for $85 per month in Las Vegas. Other packages started at $20 per month for basic home Internet and $30 for basic wireless Internet.
Improvements in the Southern Nevada economy will be closely linked to global job growth -- and that's going to take awhile.
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That's the bottom line in Las Vegas economic forecaster John Restrepo's latest analysis of the local economic situation.
In the June edition of Restrepo Consulting Group's Economic INsight report, Restrepo reviews many of the gloomy statistics illustrating the sorry state of the Las Vegas-area economy:
--Clark County lost 58,600 jobs between May 2008 and May 2009, a decline in the local employment base of 6.3 percent. Hard hit were the construction and hotel/gaming sectors -- two sectors seemingly at the mercy of economic cycles.
--The county unemployment rate officially was 11.1 percent -- but is likely 3 to 5 percentage points higher if one takes into account workers forced into part-time employment and people so discouraged with the job market that they have dropped out of the work force.
--With Real Capital Analytics estimating some $9.7 billion in Las Vegas commercial real estate is in trouble, commercial loan defaults and foreclosures are likely to continue rising and should peak sometime in 2010.
The good news about local home prices is that they are more affordable, but the decline in value and wealth associated with real estate represents a fundamental shift in the local economic equation.
"The march toward affordability is very important to our local economy. However, in the short to intermediate-terms, it is very traumatic to consumer and business confidence," Restrepo wrote.
Las Vegas is not alone in being punished by the dramatic declines in residential and commercial real estate values.
But it is one of just a handful of big cities that are dependent on tourism -- an industry under severe stress because of soaring unemployment and foreclosures nationwide. It's no secret that consumers in Cleveland without jobs, losing their homes and maxed out on their credit cards aren't booking many flights to Las Vegas these days.
Restrepo noted two factors influencing travel to Las Vegas still don't look good:
--The June Consumer Confidence Index from the Conference Board dropped by 10 percent from May, largely due to major concerns about jobs and personal incomes.
--From a spending standpoint, it also doesn’t help that the personal savings rate reached a 15-year high of 6.9 percent in May.
Restrepo outlined a nine-step path to recovery:
1. Global job growth equals improved personal income
2. That generates worldwide consumer confidence and spending
3. That enhances the performance of the Southern Nevada resort industry
4. That starts the recovery of our economy’s other sectors
5. That brings back local job growth and consumer spending
6. That improves real estate prices and values
7. That encourages more lending
8. That increases business investment (including
in the resort industry)
9. That creates an on-going cycle.
"That, hopefully, is more sustainable than we saw during Las Vegas' 'gilded age' of 1995-2005," Restrepo concluded.
The Las Vegas-Clark County Urban League and the city of Las Vegas are having a job fair Friday for people interested in applying for jobs at CityCenter.
It's at the Dr. William U. Pearson Community Center, 1625 W. Carey Ave. in North Las Vegas, and runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The National Association of Minority Contractors Nevada chapter is having its quarterly luncheon meeting Thursday, July 30, at 11:30 a.m. at the M Resort.
Benjamin Mammina of Ben Mammina Development Group will discuss "Is Diversity On Hold?"
For information, call 952-2474.