Aside from his work at Square One Solutions, Johnny Skowronek served as president in 2020 of the Northern Nevada Human Resources Association board.
Who are you?
Name: Johnny Skowronek
Profession/Title: VP of Operations at Square One Solutions
Years in Reno/Northern Nevada: 17
EDITOR’S NOTE: In November, the Reno-Tahoe Young Professionals Network announced the winners of its 14th annual Twenty Under 40 Awards. With the region’s economic future in mind, we are conducting interviews with each of the 2020 winners, to be published throughout the year.
Q: What do you see as the top one or two biggest economic development opportunities for Northern Nevada in 2021 and beyond?
Johnny Skowronek: Our burgeoning tech industry and the industries that support it. Not only in the computer and software industries, but cutting-edge technologies used by Tesla, Google and Switch, like data centers and battery technologies. And that just brings industries that support it.
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?
Skowronek: I would say that younger people are a little easier to adopt technologies and cutting-edge ideas. I think that the younger we are, the less set in our ways we are and the more open and adaptive we are to new technologies, new ideas, different ways of life — younger people just see the world differently.
And that coupled with expertise and professionalism that’s garnered over years of service to the business industry. The two generations working together can keep us on the forefront of any new developments and American entrepreneurship and American ingenuity.
Q: What under the radar industries have the biggest opportunity for growth in Northern Nevada?
Skowronek: It’s not really under the radar, but advanced manufacturing. There are a ton of businesses that we don’t even know about and manufacturing processes that we don’t even know about that are happening here and now. And with so many of them here, people from other industries get involved with a new manufacturing process, and are able to bring their ideas to further refine that process.
As we expand what we’ve already had, being on the I-80 corridor and with distribution and manufacturing as a focus for our region, I think there’s a ton of new manufacturing processes, new products, cutting-edge ideas that have the ability to be incubated in Northern Nevada because of the variety of skill sets that we’ve already attracted to the region.
Q: Where do you see the greater Reno-Sparks region in five years?
Skowronek: Reno graduates from a small town to a thriving urban environment with amenities that are more typical of larger thriving cities. And I also see that with the advent of the tech industry becoming so prevalent here and attracting the talent that’s used to being in more cutting-edge, urban environments, I see the demand for unique businesses, services, restaurants, etc. I kind of see Reno being the proving grounds for a lot of unique cultural amenities.
Q: If you could change one thing for the better or improve one thing about your community, what would it be?
Skowronek: If there’s one thing we change about the area, it would be to better market our fitness as a community to host large-scale events and national attractions. I think that we could do a better job of rebranding our community as not just “the gambling place with the sign.”
But to attract people to a lot of the other attractions we have here, like the outdoors, the weather that allows us to have a ton of fantastic outdoor events and large-scale events, and make Reno a worldwide destination. I support the event industry in my staffing, and there’s nothing I’d like to see more than having conventions return to the area.
Q: Why do you feel Northern Nevada is better positioned to bounce back from the COVID recession than other regions?
Skowronek: I would say because of our tight-knit business community and our diversity of industry. Look at Las Vegas, for instance, their economy relied almost solely on entertainment and events. That industry is fallible when it comes to an unforeseen pandemic-type situation.
All of the sudden, manufacturing is at the forefront because we still had a need — and, in fact, in a lot of scenarios an increased need — for consumer goods. It’s one of the most recession-proof industries. And I think a lot of that stuff is produced in manufacturing areas like Reno.
Note: This interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity.