RENO, Nev. — In November, the Reno-Tahoe Young Professionals Network announced the winners of its annual Twenty Under 40 Awards.
We at the NNBW feel it's
important for people of all ages, background and professions to have a voice
about the current state of business in Northern Nevada.
With the region's economic future
in mind, NNBW Reporter Kaleb M. Roedel is conducting a Q-and-A with each of the
2019 winners; interviews will be published throughout the year. Go to
renotahoeypn.com to learn more about Reno-Tahoe YPN. Read this week's Q-and-A
Q: What do you see as the top one or two biggest economic
development opportunities for Northern Nevada in 2020 and beyond?
Emily Ellison: I guess
what first comes to mind for me is an opportunity and a challenge. I think the
workforce is a huge opportunity and challenge, not only for the private sector
but also for the public sector, as well, particularly in education. It's very
competitive right now. And so, we work on a fixed funding model, which doesn't
give us a lot of altitude in terms of compensation to attract new employees.
Whatever we as a collective can do to continue telling the story of why this a
great place to live and a great place to work, I think we'll really help
support our overall economy and our community.
Q: Why is it important for younger professionals to have a seat at
the table when it comes to the business community in Northern Nevada?
Ellison: If I've learned anything in my
work here at the district, it's the importance of a stakeholder's voice. There
are so many generations in the workforce now, and we have such a diverse
community, that in order to really try to meet people's needs you have to understand
where they're coming from because we have such diverse perspectives now. I'm
not naive to think we'll be able to make everyone happy. I think that's an
impossible task, but I think having young professionals at the table, having
minorities at the table, having experienced professionals at the table is all
part of getting a broad base of perspectives to make the best-informed
decisions for whatever it is we're trying to accomplish.
Q: What emerging industry or industries have the biggest
opportunity for growth in Northern Nevada?
Ellison: I think our state's done a nice
job of laying out target industries and in-demand professions. To me, it seems
like those really capture where our national economy and global economy is
headed. And I am of course pleased to see education represented there, as well,
because I think that's just really a cornerstone to our state's success in
positioning ourselves for the future.
Q: Where do you see the greater Reno-Sparks region in five years?
Ellison: That's an exciting question,
right? There's a lot of talk right now around the ever-increasing economy and
is there a stopping point at some point or is there a recession on the horizon?
I think one of the things that I most hope for our community is that, if we do
start to see some kind of economic decline, that we don't experience it in the
same way that we did during the last recession — obviously, we felt a
significant impact from that. So, I hope that we don't have that same kind of
dramatic experience we had before.
I think there's a lot of really
exciting advocacy work and social justice work happening right now. There are
some really important social issues that are at the forefront for our community
and our state: mental health and providing adequate mental health services;
homelessness is a huge challenge for us; obviously, education is critically
important. I feel like where we may have stagnated in the past in terms of
‘what do we do about these things and how do we address them?', there's more
and more momentum then there has been before around doing something instead of
just talking about and seeing if it works and taking some action. I hope that
in the next five years we really lead the way in innovative solutions to those
kinds of problems because I think we really have nowhere to go but up when it
comes to a few of those really critical issues.
Q: If you could change one thing for the better about your
community, what would it be?
Ellison: I think it piggybacks on what I was saying before around more conversations and more action. I would love to see more and more people having a voice, having a place at the table, making a place for themselves at the table, and really seeing that grassroots effort expand. I think people helping people is where all the good stuff happens. Whatever a person's passion is, get around it and get out there and make change happen. Because I don't know that we can rely on others to make it happen for us, we have to help lead that initiative. I'd love to see Nevada become that place, and see our community become that place, where people are really invested in our community and invested in the outcomes and taking care of each other.
Editor's Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.