Dec. 23--For many in the business community, 2013 was a year of hope.
The real estate market boomed, companies relocated to Southern Nevada, and the economy appeared to pick up.
But the year also posed challenges for some. Developers with big plans saw their dreams dashed. Casinos and airlines contended with staffing issues.
Who had a good year and a not-so-good year? Read on:
--Good year: The local economy
A year ago, there was much uncertainty about Southern Nevada's economy. Now, as 2013 comes to a close, there's far more optimism as several of the region's economic indicators appear to be trending upward.
The valley's unemployment rate was 9.4 percent as of October. That still places Las Vegas third-worst for unemployment among similar-sized cities but was a marked improvement from a year earlier, when the unemployment rate was 10.3 percent. Nevada's unemployment rate improved 15th-fastest in the country this year.
The average daily room rate has risen every month except October, and the city's occupancy rate was in the high 80s for most of the year. Convention attendance grew 4 percent to 4.5 million, the number of conventions and trade shows was up 3.1 percent to 19,149, and local resorts forecast favorable visitation numbers for next year.
Gaming revenue grew 1.2 percent in Clark County and 2.5 percent on the Strip, and while gambling revenue downtown was down 2.9 percent, the Downtown Grand recently opened, which could attract new players.
Still, the picture isn't entirely rosy. Somewhat worrisome for the long term is two consecutive months of decline in consumer confidence. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Survey decreased sharply in October, then dipped again in November. Local tourism leaders say consumer confidence numbers are typically indicative of how willing people are to travel and spend money.
--Good year: North end of the Strip
Since the closing of the Stardust and Sahara, the north end of the Strip has been a sore spot for the city.
But two major resort projects promise to breathe life back into the corridor.
The SLS, the $415 million, 1,600-room resort on the grounds of the former Sahara, is considered a key factor in the recovery of the Strip's struggling north end. It is being developed by SBE Entertainment CEO Sam Nazarian, with a scheduled opening next year.
Across the street, at the site of the former Stardust and failed Echelon, Asian gaming giant the Genting Group plans to roll out a 3,500-room, Chinese-themed resort with a 175,000-square-foot casino. Resorts World Las Vegas is slated to open in 2016 and could be the Strip's biggest energizer in years.
Boyd Gaming sold Genting the 87-acre site for $350 million, giving up its foothold on the Strip.
--Good year: Wet 'n' Wild
In the war of water parks, Wet 'n' Wild emerged the winner.
The 41-acre water park in southwest Las Vegas was mobbed with fans when it opened Memorial Day weekend and maintained its popularity throughout the season. Owners hired more than 400 people to serve the crowds.
The $50 million park, developed by Village Roadshow Ltd., features 25 slides, a wave pool and a lazy river.
Its competitors across town didn't fare as well.
Construction crews building the $23 million Cowabunga Bay in Henderson hit a vein of caliche 15 feet underground, delaying the park's opening by a year. Developers also had trouble importing a custom slide from overseas.
In August, they sold the property at a 50 percent discount to a developer from Utah. General Manager Shane Huish said it still will open in April.
Plans for Cowabunga Bay call for a wave pool, a lazy river and several clusters of slides with a '60s beach theme.
--Good year: Sheldon Adelson
2013 was a great year for casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
His Las Vegas Sands shattered revenue records, making $3.57 billion during the third quarter, an increase of more than 30 percent from the previous year. Adelson raked in truckloads of dough from hi