Twenty Under 40 Q-and-A: Alphonse Polito of Three Sticks Productions
Who are you?
Name: Alphonse Polito
Profession/Title: Owner/Producer at Three Sticks Productions
Years in Reno/Northern Nevada: 30
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 below:
Q: What do you see as the top one or two biggest economic development opportunities for Northern Nevada in 2020 and beyond?
Alphonse Polito: I think the tech opportunities are enormous. I don’t know too much of the inner-workings of these things, but from an outsider’s perspective, I really envision the tech industry continuing to move to what we’re seeing out at TRIC. It used to be people sitting in front of computers, and now it’s space because data is so huge. I deal with that in my world with what we film — we shoot really high-resolution imagery. My data management is one of my hardest challenges.
And as we’re growing, I think our workforce is getting stronger. And I think that opportunity for businesses to be here is really enticing. And obviously it was growing like crazy before and I’m just hopeful it continues. I love it here and I love the opportunities these new businesses are providing for everybody.
To add to that: In my industry, one of the things I love about this area is the diverse landscapes and diverse opportunities that it provides for filming. I’ve filmed, in one day, a lake setting and a desert setting. For me, it’s amazing. We can set a movie out on the moon and go 20 miles one way or we could go 20 miles the other way and shoot some crazy horror movie in the trees. So, selfishly, I hope the film industry sees that a little bit more and starts to bring more business this way.
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?
Polito: I think that goes with the diverse thing. For me, I’ve been able to meet a ton of people and learn, and more importantly, I think it’s that new wave of the tech industry. I think it’s important to not discourage age when it comes to economic drivers because, as young entrepreneurs and young business people, those are the people that really push each other to grow. That’s how I was, at least. People I went to school with at UNR were starting to have success and I would learn from them, and I was able to teach them things.
This community is super inviting and super open to helping and I think that’s what’s awesome. And I think the younger generation continues to have that spirit here, and I hope that never goes away.
Q: What under-the-radar industries have the biggest opportunity for growth in Northern Nevada?
Polito: I don’t know if it’s under the radar or not, but I think the really, really great food and beverage industry. I travel a lot for work. I’m in big cities — New York, Boston, the Bay Area. I feel fortunate to get to try different restaurants and different places. And some of my favorite meals are still here. I think that industry has an opportunity here to just thrive, and I really hope it continues.
And the other one that I think could potentially grow is the arts and music and theater scene. There are a lot of people here that are talented. I get to deal with actors a lot, and some of the people here are so talented. I’m always just blown away at what we have here, and I’m hoping it continues to thrive. Arts and any culture stuff, I think this community is really welcoming to it.
Q: Where do you see the greater Reno-Sparks region in five years?
Polito: It’s going to grow, we can’t get away from that — the secret’s out. I think that’s kind of cool. Obviously, I don’t want it to change too much; I want it to keep that character that it’s always had. The growth’s happening, I just think the next five years is how we grow with it. I think it’s going to potentially turn into — and everyone says this — like an Austin. I’ve never been to Austin, but that’s what I’ve heard and what I’ve read. With the arts and culture and food, where it’s that diverse economy. What I think we have over a place like that is the tourism; we have 300-something days of sunshine; we have ski resorts; we have golf courses. I think we’re really going to be this hotspot for people to want to not just visit, but also live.
Q: If you could change one thing for the better about your community, what would it be?
Polito: This feels like a bigger issue than I know how to speak to, but I’ve been really honored to get to work with the (Nevada) Department of Health and Human Services and dealing with opioid addiction. We’ve produced three documentaries about the subject matter. You get to know people, and that community of people that are struggling with homelessness, addiction, mental illness … that community of people is just brushed aside so often and I hope that we as a community can help. Continue to help, I should say, because I think there are people doing great things. That population is sometimes easy to turn a blind eye to, so we all should continue to look at them and find ways to put ourselves in their shoes a little bit. And continue to address the stigma associated with these things.
Editor’s Note: The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Officials with Fuentes Restaurant and Cantina, Axle Crossfit, Gather, Loved Momma Fitness, Rowdy Bar and Silver Strike Crossfit discuss challenges — and opportunities — due to the pandemic.