An article from Fox News reporting on the 2011 Las Vegas Perspective tell us what we already knew… non-gaming business will be critical to the success of future Las Vegas.

There has been a lot of talk about the diversification of the Las Vegas economy, but when pressed I rarely hear new ideas other than tapping outside markets (specifically California) since we have offer preferential tax treatment. Our favorable tax environment is becoming less of a unique capability with other states considering the same strategy for themselves. Taking that strategy to market is a great way to appeal to all businesses… but as the famous saying goes, the middle of the road is the most dangerous place to drive.

If we truly want to make an impact and diversify Las Vegas, it makes more sense to approach this from a product launch perspective. Our city is the product- we need to identify our market. Any marketing 101 grad knows that a sure way to fail is to try to be all things to all people. It is far better to take a niche approach and serve that niche better than anyone else.

As far as what Las Vegas’ niche should be, I am not 100% sure. I used to think that we could make a name for ourselves in renewable energy, specifically solar power, but Boulder, CO has already established itself as the epicenter. That’s not to say that we can’t play a part. I just think we let a golden opportunity slip past us.

After touring the Switch Data Center, I firmly believe that Las Vegas offers a very unique capability to serve data centers and other companies that rely on similar criteria- ~70* annual average temperature, moderate climate, low humidity, low risk for natural disasters, etc. These are uniquenesses that apply to a very small section of our country and cannot be duplicated outside of that zone.

I am excited about Zappos’ relocation to downtown Las Vegas and the vison that Tony Hsieh has for the area. With Tony Hsieh acting as an evangelist for our city, I don’t think there is any reason we can’t attract more technology companies to relocate.

Whichever direction we choose, it is imperative that we build a strategy within the city to support that direction and then market it. That means getting state government, local government, the university, and local business to at least start moving in the same direction around a core strategy. That is a feat that is much easier said than done and an article that I will leave for another day…