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5/14/2013 7:55:43 AM

North Las Vegas is the fourth largest city in the state of Nevada, and, at one time, it was the fastest growing city in Nevada. Its population has grown from 115,488 in 2000 to 216,961 in 2010. During that period, 300 businesses moved into the Industrial Park of North Las Vegas.

In 2007, Mr. Dahlas Antoku, a Japanese American, asked me to sell his shopping center. It is a 22 acres property across the City Hall, it has 10 buildings on it and the asking price was 34 millions. The price was a bit high, so, in order to facilitate the sale, I suggested to him to package it as “Chinese Business Center”. To propose this plan, we had several discussions with Mr. Robinson, the then mayor, and other city officials.

I suggested that North Las Vegas, in its relationship with Las Vegas, was very much like that of Oakland to San Francisco.  San Francisco is a tourist destination, and Oakland is a port, with lots of warehouses and the majority of its population African Americans. At that time, when the mayor of Oakland tried to attract Chinese businessmen to invest, he changed more than 100 street names into Chinese names. Later, when American-Chinese trading activities grew rapidly, many cargo ships parked in Oakland harbor, and many importers and exporters set up shops in Oakland. Now the Oakland Chinatown is larger than San Francisco Chinatown.

I proposed to Mayor Robinson: North Las Vegas was like Oakland some years back, it should not compete with Las Vegas on gaming business; instead, it should focus on develop industries. It should create a “Chinese Business Center” and try to attract importers and exporters. Then, along Highway 15, let them build warehouses. Also, he should try extend the monorail from Sahara Casino to North Las Vegas, so it ends right in front of the City Hall. The Mayor was strongly in favor of that idea and urged officials sitting around the table to coordinate their efforts.

In 2010 election, Mr. Antoku strongly supported Mr. Robinson to be reelected as mayor of North Las Vegas. He even set up the election headquarter inside the shopping mall. However, Mr. Antoku misplaced his bet and Mr. Robinson lost.

Traditionally, North Las Vegas is a city of African Americans. In the 50’s, when Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis were performing in town, Sammy Davis could not stay in the hotel where he was performing because he was black. He had to go the stay in North Las Vegas.

Now the population mix has changed. There are 60% white, 20% black and 0.5% Asian. North Las Vegas is no longer a black town.

The southern part of North Las Vegas is old town, where minorities dominate. But the northern part has become the mainstream. The recent election shows that the blacks lose ground in politics.

Shari Buck is the newly elected mayor, and she is white. She is facing the worst financial crisis in the history of the city. North Las Vegas is a disaster area in housing, where houses lost two third of their values. City government has 8 million dollars deficit, and its tax revenue has declined from 810 million down to 290 million. The new mayor is in trouble.