Comparing the hype: Citicorp then, Tesla now

In 1984, executives throughout Southern Nevada supported the possible opening of a Citicorp credit-card processing center in Las Vegas, as well as a special session of the Legislature to pass new laws to bring the company in.

Backers urged quick action, saying the facility would improve the area’s image and diversify the casino-heavy economy with hundreds of technical jobs.

Their reasonings mirror what supporters said last year when Gov. Brian Sandoval called a special session to approve $ 1.25 billion in perks for electric-car maker Tesla Motors, which proposed building a battery factory near Reno.

Here’s what people said then and now, as shown in letters of support, legislative testimony, news articles and other public statements.

1984 — Citicorp

• “This major, highly respected banking institution can represent the single greatest step the state can take in changing Nevada from being a vulnerable one-industry economy. In a phrase — ‘Let’s get it on.’” — Robert Dickinson, president, North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce

• “Citicorp will bring credibility to Nevada’s business base.” — Bob Fielden, JMA Architecture

• “We need to act quickly if this opportunity is to be realized.” — Lamar Marchese, general manager, KNPR

• “While the creation of 1,000 jobs is certainly important to our economy at any time, and particularly now, the enhancement to our image … is the most beneficial aspect.” — Gilbert Schwartz, president, Sahara Realtors

• “It would be inconceivable to me that all stops should not be pulled out to attract this very fine company.” — Clair Haycock, president, Haycock Distributing Co.

• “The added prestige which our business community can gain by adding a corporation of the stature of Citicorp should contribute to breaking down long-standing biases which are encountered from time to time in our financial dealings.” — Larry Canarelli, president, Nevada division, Metropolitan Development Corp.

• “Whatever effort we might make in behalf of this project … we stand ready to support you.” — Bill Bennett, chairman, Circus Circus Enterprises

• “Our state needs some positive advertising. … Let’s get on with it and let’s do it.” — Bob Weise, bank director and former state assemblyman

• “We see all positives and no negatives in inviting Citicorp to join us in Nevada.” — Fred Lewis, vice president, Summa Corp.

2014 — Tesla Motors

• It “will change Nevada forever and set in motion the creation of thousands of new jobs.” — Sandoval

• “It will lift up everyone in the region. Property values will go up. The prosperity of the region will be materially changed.” — Steve Hill, Sandoval’s economic development director

• “This changes the perception of Nevada from just being tourism and real estate.” — Robert Lang, UNLV director, Brookings Mountain West

• “This is a game-changer for economic development in Nevada.” — Manos Maragakis, dean, UNR College of Engineering

• “This is a significant opportunity to make a major stride to improve our statewide economy.” — Marilyn Kirkpatrick, speaker, state Assembly

• “I urge our legislators to take quick action and approve the agreement that will seal the deal for Tesla to move to Nevada. …This opportunity has raised the profile of Nevada and our region, which will only serve to draw more attention from prestigious and well-known companies such as Tesla.” — Geno Martini, mayor, Sparks

• “Our local businesses have suffered for the reasons we all know of, and Tesla will be a much-needed shot to our local economy.” — Mike Young, president, Incline Community Business Association

• It’s “a tremendous shot in the arm for us.” — Stephen Driscoll, city manager, Sparks

Las Vegas Sun librarian Rebecca Clifford-Cruz contributed research to this story.

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