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Gaming Guru

Jeff Simpson

Greenspun Corp., Hughes Corp. Cut Funding After Clash Over Tax Differences

9 September 2003

LAS VEGAS -- The two biggest real estate development companies in Las Vegas, the Greenspun Corp. and Hughes Corp., have cut their financial support for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

The moves are the latest fallout from the position the chamber took during Nevada's recent legislative session, opposing broad-based business taxes favored by the casino industry and some in the development business.

MGM Mirage, Station Casinos and casino linen supplier Mission Industries all previously withdrew their chamber memberships at least in part because of the tax issue.

Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Kara Kelley was unavailable Monday for comment.

Chamber spokeswoman Catherine Levy said Monday the organization wouldn't second-guess the Hughes and Greenspun decisions.

"They made business decisions, but it's a positive they're retaining their memberships," Levy said. "It's a testament that they realize the benefits of the chamber. Political stances, like ours on the tax issue, are only a small facet of the things we do."

Levy was unable to say what effect the financial cuts would have on the chamber and its programs.

The Greenspun Corp., owners of Green Valley developers American Nevada Corp., confirmed Monday it will retain its membership in the Las Vegas and Henderson chambers, but cut all other financial support beyond its membership dues.

The Greenspun family also owns the Las Vegas Sun, Showbiz Magazine, a half share of Green Valley Ranch Station and minority stakes in the Palms and cable provider Cox Communications.

Greenspun Corp. Chief Operating Officer Phil Peckman said Monday that his company was withdrawing its subsidies for chamber programs it has supported in the past, including the Preview Las Vegas business networking show and chamber leadership development programs.

"We're not looking to fry the chamber; it does a lot of good things," Peckman said of the decision the company made two weeks ago. "Like a lot of businesses, we were disappointed with the chamber leadership because of the tax situation. We were obviously advocates of a broad-based business tax, and they opposed us. This was a big deal. The financial stability of the state was at stake."

Peckman declined to say how much the company spent on chamber activities aside from its dues.

Summerlin-developer Hughes Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Rouse Co., also decided to maintain its membership while cutting its financial support to the Las Vegas chamber. Company spokesman Tom Warden, however, declined to specify the extent of the drop in cash support.

Warden emphasized the company's recent decision to remain a chamber member and continue paying dues.

"We've had some differences of opinion on policy issues," Warden said. "We've discussed those (with the chamber) and we've chosen to remain a member. We've reduced our financial commitment."

Hughes doesn't belong to the Henderson Chamber of Commerce.