By ALEX STONE, ABC News
(LAS VEGAS) -- Life is tough here in Las Vegas. With 13.6 percent of the area’s population out of work -- compared to the nationwide jobless rate of 9 percent -- the city is suffering one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. With gambling revenues down, the concern of more layoffs constantly nags at those who still have jobs.
In the current economy, the big players here are giving up on building big new casinos and resorts. Instead, the focus is turning toward ways to attract crowds for less money and without an emphasis on gambling.
That’s where Caesars Entertainment comes in. The company is developing Linq -- a massive entertainment district filled with restaurants, bars, and retail shops patterned after The Grove, a well-known Los Angeles mall popular with Hollywood celebrities.
“It will really bring a new dimension to the center strip of Las Vegas,” Caesars Regional President Rick Mazer told ABC News.
Mazer said the Linq project will be focused on offering an affordable entertainment option that differs from what is currently available on the Vegas Strip. “We have had an ample amount of hotel and casino product come online recently and they’ve had their hiccups,” he said.
Linq will mean jobs for badly battered Las Vegas. “We will have approximately 3,000 construction jobs that are created through this project. Some of that has already started. When the project is done in mid-2013 we anticipate another 1,300 full time jobs,” explains Mazer.
Linq is being built along a private street separating the Imperial Palace from the Flamingo Hotel. It will stretch from the Las Vegas Strip to a street behind the hotels -- its centerpiece, a 550-foot “observation wheel.” Mazer says it will not be a Ferris wheel, but instead a massive structure taller than the London Eye (443ft) with glass-enclosed cabins that hold 40 passengers each and circle above the Strip.
“In a time when jobs are scarce and many companies are not creating jobs we are very proud to say we are creating thousands of jobs,” says Mazer.
The Linq project offers hope at a time when hope in Sin City is hard to find.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio