January 13, 2018
When government leaders view a public works project as an economic development driver for a community, as was the case for the Las Vegas stadium project, critics are bound to surface.
In Las Vegas, the issue was amplified because of the amount of the public commitment — $750 million, the largest amount of public money ever dedicated to a public-private partnership for a sports facility.
The questions were inevitable. Why should the public give so much money to a project controlled by billionaires? Wouldn’t it be better to just use all that money to address a need, such as education or health care? What’s in it for the citizens of Southern Nevada?
That’s where Lynn Littlejohn comes in.
The 21-year Mortenson Construction employee is focused on inclusion programs that are a part of the construction of the planned $1.9 billion stadium.
“These large, high-profile projects are sometimes controversial and definitely have a light shining on them, so there needs to be a focus on economic development, and giving back to the community is important,” said Littlejohn, who has made several appearances before the Las Vegas Stadium Authority on behalf of the Oakland Raiders and Mortenson.
Senate Bill 1 outlined the financing of the stadium and the public’s $750 million contribution through a 0.88 percentage-point increase in a sales tax on motel and hotel rooms to secure tax-exempt bonds being used to build the 65,000-seat stadium. It also required the Raiders to develop a community benefits plan.
After months of work and a series of meetings among Littlejohn, Raiders executives, Stadium Authority representatives and Southern Nevada’s minority contracting community, the community benefits plan was delivered in December. It didn’t require the Stadium Authority’s approval, but members reviewed it because it it will appoint the chair of a seven-member oversight committee to make sure the plan is implemented.
The community benefits plan establishes goals for the hiring of minority subcontractors, laborers and game-day employees, as well as suppliers and provisioners.
Littlejohn said over time, Mortenson has improved community benefits plans with every project the company has undertaken. The Raiders say their plan for Las Vegas is the best ever drafted, requiring a workforce participation target of not less than 38 percent of construction work hours performed by minority and female workers. The plan also calls for a workforce participation target of not less than a combined 55 percent of work hours on days in which events take place at the stadium.