The Downtown Project in Las Vegas, an initiative launched by Zappos founfer Tony Hsieh in 2012 to revitalize a blighted section of the city, has acquired more than 60 acres of land, invested in 300 new businesses, and created 800 new jobs.
The $350 million project is on a five-year plan to be profitable, but with two years down, it still has a long way to go. It also has been in the subject of incorrect reports about its future recently, including the news that Hsieh dropped out of the initiative.
To catch everyone up, Hsieh is still part of the project, but there is not one person running the show. The Downtown Project's businesses, which collectively have raised $350 million, remain separate from one another. Inc.'s Malachi Leopold went to Vegas for a behind-the-scenes look with Hsieh and other entrepreneurs committed to transforming Las Vegas into one big startup.
In an Inc. Trep Life mini-documentary, Hsieh reveals what it takes to be involved in the project. "I have always been entrepreneurial and like to be around people who have that entrepreneurial spirit," he says. "It's not necessarily about being business-focused, but having the right combination of creativity, optimism, and street smarts, and I like being around people who like to make something happen."
One of the entrepreneurs who is leading the communications and outreach efforts for the project is Rehan Choudhry, founder of Las Vegas-based music, food, and art festival company Life is Beautiful. Choudhry realizes people are expecting the project to show immediate results, but transforming a city is going to take time.
"You're seeing a lot of money coming into the area, but the reality is that it is a long-haul project. You can't turn a city around in a year," he says. "We're talking about 5 to 10 years before it's actually the dream people are presenting today."
To see what the revitalization of a city looks like from the ground, watch the video below.