Twenty Under 40 Q-and-A: Dickinson Wright’s Steven A. Caloiaro
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 biggest economic development opportunities for Northern Nevada in 2020 and beyond?
Steven Caloiaro: I think the state legislature and the Northern Nevada economic board have done a really nice job of diversifying the economy. I think that with the natural tax incentives, the workforce, the location to Northern California, it’s kind of a no-brainer to start getting in these high-quality blue-collar manufacturing jobs, whether it be in UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), whether it be in some of the distribution, or whether it be in some of the data warehousing and data storage solution stuff, I think there are really, really interesting and unique growth opportunities.
And then the second thing is — and what I’ve seen from some of my clients, specifically — Reno provides a really unique opportunity for small to midsize startups, due to the location to San Francisco, where a lot of the venture capital money is still at, a high-quality workforce, cheaper housing — at least cheaper than San Francisco. Reno offers a really unique niche market and I think that’s probably the biggest sector that I see — those small-to-medium high-tech companies.
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?
Steven Caloiaro: I think part of it is oftentimes — even myself, I’ve been practicing law for nine years — you get into a little bit of a funk and say, ‘Well, it can’t be done that way, it always has to be done this way.’ And I think you just get kind of comfortable. In my case, a newer associate might say, ‘Well, why do we do it that way?’ And you kind of tilt your head and give the confused-dog look and you think about it and you’re like, ‘Well, I guess there’s really no good reason other than that’s the way we’ve always done it.’
Whether it is technology or education, kids are thinking about new and different ways to attack problems. I think it’s good to have those seats at the table. I certainly think there is respect for those elders who’ve been here before and paved the way, but when you have that collaborative voice that asks ‘What do people want? What do people want to see?’ You look at an area like Midtown and it’s like, OK, a 70-year-old couple who’s retired out in Wingfield Springs aren’t going to be the people coming to Midtown, so what kind of voice do you need from people like me who are going to be coming down there on a weekend to go shopping and then grab a beer or cocktail and then go to dinner? You need to start getting some of those influences from the younger generation who are becoming more of that marketing demographic — the 24-to-36 (years old) range is kind of the big spending area — and getting those people’s philosophies, because a lot of these businesses that are coming in, they want to see what those people want. So, I think it’s important for people in that age to have a say and a voice at the table so they can enlighten and provide some thought.
Q: What under-the-radar industry or industries have the biggest opportunity for growth in Northern Nevada?
Steven Caloiaro: I have three off the top of my head. First, UAV stuff: A lot of these medium-sized drone companies are coming in to Reno because it’s a perfect opportunity to test. The uneven terrain; being somewhat of a city but not a complete metropolitan; and the dense open area where you can really test and work on these things; as well as the economic incentives offered by Northern Nevada.
The second one is — regardless of how you feel about it socially or religiously — marijuana is here to stay. I’m not directly involved in this industry because I do federal law and federal IP law, but there’s a tremendous amount of influx of Canadian capital coming into the area, purchasing some of these (area companies). You look at some of the people that hold some of the licenses here and they’re all very well-respected in the community. But I think that that growth potential is just starting to get touched. I’ll be interested to see how the new marijuana commission that handles the dispensary licenses and the grow licenses helps shepherd this industry because, without a doubt, it’s a big growth industry for this state. I think that it provided a lot of opportunities and, hopefully, not only do you see the growth in the money come in, but it’d be great if you start getting some bio-tech jobs that talk about different strains or different varieties, stuff like that, that you can really expand upon these high-level jobs.
And then the last is a personal client of mine, Blockchains. They’re doing some really exciting stuff out in the desert; it’s a really cool concept. And when you think about … kind of like we talked about earlier, younger people are changing the way we think about things. For me, it’s ‘What if everything’s done on cryptocurrency so everything’s protected?’ To just think in the last 25 years how we’ve gone from writing checks out for the exact amount to where now everything can be done on a crypto that’s incredibly safe, incredibly effective, difficult, if not impossible — depending on what you read — to crack, they’re offering a lot of exciting new potential in just a massive growth industry. Fingers-crossed, they knock it out of the park. They have really strong leadership, so I think they will. It provides a tremendous opportunity to the region.
Q: Where do you see the greater Reno-Sparks region in five years?
Steven Caloiaro: Five years … that’s a really interesting question. So much has changed in the three years I was gone to law school. You see new restaurants popping up, you see new bars, new shops. I think you’ll probably see a lot of the same thing. I think that, personally, I like the idea of some of the newer projects that are looking to come into downtown; I think getting some of the infill in downtown. I think that there still needs to be work done with the low-income housing with some of the homeless population. But I do think the downtown offers a tremendous untapped growth potential for people to really seize on some of the space available and the property available to fill in that influx of downtown so we don’t have such an urban sprawl.
I see growth in the some of the sectors we’ve mentioned. I think the university (of Nevada, Reno) is doing an outstanding job of really bringing in high-quality students, many of which stay in the area and contribute to the local economy. And obviously the housing market is really strong, too. Overall, I think we’ll see a lot of what we’ve seen in the last two-three years.
Q: If you could change one thing for the better about your community, what would it be?
Steven Caloiaro: I touched on it a little bit earlier, but I think the mental health and homeless population. I should say, first, there are some incredible nonprofits really working hard in that area. The Eddy House is an amazing resource and I don’t think people realize what an amazing job they’re doing. I think, generally, creating more of a long-term solution to not only get these people the help they need but eventually get them off the streets. It’s a simple thing to say ‘Listen, let’s get rid of the homeless.’ But I think it’s more, let’s get rid of the underlining root, whether that be substance abuse, whether that be mental health. Trying to find a way and a plan to really create more opportunity for these people to get back on their feet, so they’re not the people struggling.
So that’s the number one thing: to find a long-term solution to the mental health and homeless population in downtown Reno.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
“The thing that I like most about entrepreneurship is I can work toward something that I’m passionate about and be at the forefront of the change that I want to see happen,” said Priyanka Senthil, a senior at Davidson Academy in Reno and co-founder of startup company AUesome.