Oct. 22, 2021
Jaewon Lim, Robert E. Lang, and Sabrina Wang

Abstract:  In the 2011 report, “Unify, Regionalize, Diversify,” The Brookings Institution, SRI International, and Brookings Mountain West detailed Las Vegas’s experiences during and after the Great Recession, and identified the health and medical industry as a particularly potent opportunity for economic diversification – one that could improve health outcomes while also generating sustainable economic activity and high-quality jobs. The Las Vegas Metro medical industry began growing in 2006, grew during the Great Recession, and is expected to continue to grow for the next 10-year period spurred by the rapidly growing population in Southern Nevada. The establishment and launch of the UNLV School of Medicine in 2014 brings a much-needed and long overdue asset to Southern Nevada’s health care landscape. To understand the larger impact of the UNLV School of Medicine, this policy brief explores 5 development scenarios of the Las Vegas regional economy, based on the growth patterns in comparable metropolitan areas after the establishment of a medical school: (1) Phoenix, (2) Orlando, (3) Denver, (4) Kansas City, and (5) Tucson. However, if the Las Vegas Metro were to follow the growth pattern of the Kansas City Metro following the establishment of its medical school, the impact on the economy would be massive compared to the baseline scenario. Under the same rate of growth as the Kansas City Metro, including the change in leadership for the University of Kansas School of Medicine, the Las Vegas Metro would experience optimum economic growth.

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