Conventional wisdom believes that trying to get the government or any large agency to do something is a useless task most often characterized by the agency asking for people's participation, then saying, “thanks for the input, now good-by,” with nothing ever being done.
Not so for the Eureka Casino Hotel and its management team, Greg Lee and Andre Carrier. In late March, they held several focus groups at the Eureka Casino to answer the question “what kind of community do we want to live in here?” The question was prompted, in part, and brought to the attention of Lee and Carrier by members of the community who felt that over the past few years it was hard to get anything done in Mesquite.
That was the challenge Lee and his staff took on by inviting about 50 random members of the community as well as several of his own employees, from waiters to management, to find an answer to that question.
“We wanted to work in partnership with the men and women of this community to make a better Mesquite,” said Lee. “We wanted to be more informed citizens, more informed business leaders, and really listen to what people had to say.”
The focus groups identified the best traits of Mesquite and those not-so-good traits. In general, most people love Mesquite and identified many fine things. But they also identified problem areas, such as limited job opportunities, lack of signature events, and lack of activities for children and teens making Mesquite a tough place to grow up. There were many other factors mentioned but these were some of the most common. Group members said a water park was needed, as well as scholarships and internships, national competitions held locally, and a specific branding of Mesquite.
“This gave us a starting point for what we heard our community saying they wanted for Mesquite,” said Carrier. “It was a place we could contribute to a better Mesquite.”
“These are just the first steps, but doing this together with community support will be more powerful,” said Lee. “What we learned was that as much as we try to listen and be involved, it's not enough. We need the community. But, we know where we can make a difference and that is why we came up with these ideas and are willing to take the leadership role.”
The starting point that Lee said would contribute to a better Mesquite involves creating an infrastructure for success and advocating for Mesquite at every opportunity.
First, Lee will create the Eureka Community Foundation. The Foundation will listen to the ideas and needs of the community directly and then act. Action will not be taken without active listening and knowing where it can really make a difference.
Within the Eureka Community Foundation, Lee proposes to make an impact on education by creating a Eureka scholarship for students at the Virgin Valley High School. Beginning in 2013, the Eureka will offer scholarships to the UNLV School of Hotel Administration and to the UNLV School of Business.
Second, the Eureka will create a premier culinary education program in Mesquite at the high school level. That will allow local students interested in a culinary career the chance to earn above average income in the culinary field. These ideas will help keep young people in Mesquite and have them return here after college.
Continuing with the education theme, the Eureka will create a tutoring exchange using the Eureka infrastructure to facilitate student exchange programs. “Many times people are willing to give back to the community by tutoring but they may not have the facilities to do it,” said Lee. “We are willing to try something different to assist with the success of that idea.”
The Eureka will also create and market a comprehensive ATV/four wheeling map of the Mesquite area to attract off-road enthusiasts. The company will follow that up by creating and hosting a world-class ATV jamboree in Mesquite.
To serve veterans and Wounded Warriors, the Eureka will expand the Five Million Dollar Hole-in-One shootout with the idea of attracting nation players to Mesquite.
To provide a one-stop location for people who want to know what's going on in Mesquite, the Eureka will expand marketing of Mesquite through it's magazine, The Red Mesa. The idea is to supply information on a wide range of activities and with the vision of Mesquite in one single place. “If you've got it, flaunt it, will be the idea,” said Carrier.
For 2013, the Eureka will continue and expand its very popular and family friendly Fourth of July celebration by sponsoring the Rockets over the Red Mesa fireworks celebration along with the Nevada POPS symphony orchestra. The event will continue to be free. However, the Eureka will provide the community with a vendor village where local charities can have a chance to earn some money through concession sales.
“These are just starting steps,” said Lee. “There is no reason why Mesquite can't be a model for other Nevada cities. What we learn from all this will make a better Mesquite.”
“We are very blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people,” said Carrier. “We want to reflect our appreciation for that blessing in more than just words.”