LVGEA crowd missed point of the gala

The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance drew a record crowd of more than 700 to its annual gala Oct. 15 at the Aria.

But I still went home feeling sorry for Jonas Peterson.

This was his first time overseeing the event as CEO, and he had a message to deliver. But as he prowled the stage working the evening’s theme of “Creating the New Nevada,” the room sounded a lot like your average high school cafeteria.

Marilyn Kirkpatrick noticed the same problem during her brief appearance on stage. As the former Democratic Assembly leader, she understands what it’s like when nobody is listening. She felt the need to remind the crowd that the economic future of the state is important stuff and they should listen. But the din continued.

Peterson at least came with slides that offered a visual take on his message of the group’s core values of jobs, leadership, partnership, innovation and information.

He said the “rising economic tide” was a time to redouble efforts, not to rest on our laurels, because the competition for the next round of job creation is global. He said that “we are all the developers of the new Nevada” and that “we are all the economy of the New Nevada.”

At least that’s what I think he said.

But the mood of the room changed instantly as the evening’s featured attraction, Bill Foley, moved toward the stage. And sound level shifted to library silence.

Now, that’s an appropriate level of respect and interest to show a keynote speaker. And Foley’s role in the Las Vegas circle of high rollers earned that respect. After all, he’s on the verge of delivering a professional sports team to a market that a) has none and b) was long treated as radioactive by pro sports leagues.

But, Foley had little of substance to say, a predictable result of a format that had him being interviewed by TV sportscaster Chris Maathuis, who seemed more interested in showing his closeness to Foley than honoring that core value of information. To be fair, Maathuis did get Foley to promise he’d deliver a Stanley Cup within eight years. Well, stranger things have happened (see the Miracle Mets).

The Global Economic Alliance has come a long way in a short time. And the people in that room deserve applause for making it happen.

Bur Peterson had a stronger, more important and more credible vision of the future to spin than Foley. It’s just a shame nobody cared enough —or had the manners — to listen.

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