Vegas Icon Manny Cortez Passes Away

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Las Vegas, NV – A funeral mass will be held on June 22 for Manny Cortez, 67, the former president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority who died on Father’s Day of a heart attack.

Cortez was long a fixture in Las Vegas as the desert outpost grew into a trade show and tourism mecca that hosted 37 million visitors in 2004 and ratcheted up its convention business from under 2 million in 1991 to 5.7 million in 2003.

Cortez joined the LVCVA’s board of directors in 1983. After serving as chairman from 1985 through 1990, he was named president. He retired in July 2004, and was succeeded by executive VP  Rossi Ralenkotter, a 30+-year veteran of the LVCVA.

Cortez’s service to the community led Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn to declare in 2004 that June 28 be known as “Manny Cortez Day” in the Silver State. The Las Vegas Review-Journal paid tribute to Cortez on its editorial page June 20, calling him a facilitator who helped channel the growing confluence of visitors and corporate capital pouring into town.

Cortez was credited with providing a major boost to the development of the Las Vegas convention industry at a time when the city was focused squarely on casino gambling.

Former Clark County Commissioner Paul Christensen told the newspaper, “Putting Manny Cortez in charge of the (convention authority) was one of the better moves we ever made.”

He was also credited with the rapid revival of the Las Vegas tourism industry in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack,  and along with Ralenkotter, helped launch the “What Happens Here Stays Here” advertising campaign that added a hip element to an industry that had for a time stressed Vegas as a family destination.

Reach the LVCVA at (702) 892-0711 or toll-free: (877) 847-4858.