Jacquie Cheun, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2010, earned both a Master of Science and a PhD from the University of North Texas.
Who are you?
Name: Jacquie Cheun
Profession/Title: People Development Manager at Greater Nevada Credit Union
Years in Reno/Northern Nevada: 8
EDITOR’S NOTE: This past 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 2021.
Q: What do you see as the top one or two biggest economic development opportunities for Northern Nevada in 2021 and beyond?
Cheun: It’s definitely going to be the expanding technology. We’ve got all of these great tech companies coming in, like Apple and Blockchains Inc., as well as the logistics. It’s embracing all of the great industries that are already at TRIC (Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center) and including them into our repertoire, with our hospitality.
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?
Cheun: When it comes to having a seat at the table, it’s important to have diverse backgrounds. And with young professionals, we want to have that voice in developing the future. So, being able to help create what our community looks like and feels like. And then also once we’re able to have that voice, we also create ownership, so we’re able to be like ‘this is our community, we helped build this.’
Q: What under the radar industries have the biggest opportunity for growth in Northern Nevada?
Cheun: I would expect manufacturers of autonomous vehicles and aircraft, and clean energy companies to continue to choose our region. Also, the cannabis industry and all the new awesome applications they have regarding their products, and then hopefully new opportunities would stem from that and pop up in our region. Especially now with COVID, I think there are some many opportunities in technology and the power that it has. And we really haven’t tapped into it. We’ve been living with the internet for over 30 years now and we’re not even close to realizing how much we can actually use it, and how technologies really could be embedded into our lives. So, we’re just at the tip of the iceberg.
Q: Where do you see the greater Reno-Sparks region in five years?
Cheun: I see the TRIC area is going to expand even more and Fallon and Fernley definitely getting bigger. And I would not be surprised if Damonte Ranch turns into its own municipality, turns into its own city. We have so much growth coming in, especially from the Bay Area. It’s beautiful up here, we have four seasons, it’s a great community, we welcome remote workers, and we have no state tax. We’re just going to see it grow. There won’t be just the city of Sparks and city of Reno anymore; we’ll definitely see more municipalities come along. But with that comes significant challenges in the infrastructure. And that’s why it’s important for young professionals to have a seat at the table, so they can see that vision and maybe think outside of the box.
Q: If you could change one thing for the better or improve one thing about your community, what would it be?
Cheun: A direct focus on education, especially in STEAM, and investing more in our education system. We want to grow our talent from within our state versus constantly recruiting outside of our state. We have these huge tech companies coming in and we have these logistics companies, and we should be leveraging their wealth of knowledge and also be improving our schools with that so we can prepare our kiddos for the future.
Q: Why do you feel Northern Nevada is better positioned to bounce back from the COVID recession than other regions?
Cheun: It’s definitely because we’re willing to diversify in our economy and we’re willing to lean in and step out of this idea of solely mining and hospitality. And then we also have the drive market; we have Lake Tahoe, we have Northern California (Bay Area) less than four hours away. Even though we are a small city, we have so much to offer that people are flocking here.
Note: This interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity.