Twenty Under 40 Q-and-A: Nevada Association of Employers’ Thoran Towler
Who are you?
Name: Thoran Towler
Profession/Title: CEO of Nevada Association of Employers
How many years in Reno/Northern Nevada: 14
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?
Thoran Towler: The first is technology. That’s still a big thing. If you look at what’s been sustainable for us in Northern Nevada is the interest from the Bay Area, and technology companies are moving here. From what I see with our association, that seems to be the most sustainable and what’s really peaking a lot of interest. The other part, I think, is support for all the people moving in. We hear about a lot of shortages — like medical professionals, and housing — and I see a lot of potential not just for those areas, but for entities or companies that provide services to people who are moving into a community, to help them integrate into the community. I think there’s more need for that and potential for growth for that.
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?
Towler: It’s also something we could improve on. I think there is a disconnect — a lot of times you don’t have the younger people at the table. I’m almost 40, I shouldn’t be the youngest person in these conversations — but I have been. And I try to bring that up. I think you need to engage people, you can’t sit around and think about and talk about ‘how are we going to continue our legacy onto the next generation? How are we going to incorporate more millennials and get them involved in the business community?’
And it’s not the right generation asking those questions, and they’re not looking for answers from the group they’re trying to engage. You have to engage everybody because that is the future — we all know that.
Q: What on-the-rise industry or industries have the biggest opportunity for growth in Northern Nevada?
Towler: The old me would’ve said manufacturing. But, I represent a lot of manufacturers, and they are having a hard time finding people at this rate.
I talked about tech. I think there is a lot of potential and there are a lot of options. The ones that aren’t struggling to hire right now are the smaller companies that I work with or people that I’ve met; maybe they’re a tech company out of the Bay (Area) and they’re opening an office here or maybe moving headquarters here and bringing people with them. That’s the best opportunity for growth.
Q: Where do you see the greater Reno-Sparks region in five years?
Towler: I think we’re going to keep growing. I think we will be a trendy, tech hub. I live in south Reno and work in south Reno, so sometimes I get stuck in south Reno. But then I go to midtown and there’s a cool restaurant every time I’m there and a lot of renovation going on. I think we’re going to become a trendy spot. And that is a huge change. I’ve been here 14 years, and we were the butt of many jokes, nationally. I think there is going to a big shift. I think it’s going to be a trendy place to move to because of the Bay and because people are investing and there’s cool new restaurants and things to do. I think it’s just going to improve.
Q: If you could change one thing for the better about your community, what would it be?
Towler: I think we could all work on being more inclusive, faster. It’s the only place I’ve ever lived where people asked me if I was a native (Nevadan). I think that mentality needs to go away. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes there are the online comments of ‘let’s keep California out of here.’ I think we need to be inclusive; we need to make that shift. I had asked people years ago, why does everybody ask me that (if I’m a native)? And they’ve said, ‘it’s such a transitional state where people come and go. There’s that hesitation of … am I going to invest in you? Because you won’t be here, necessarily.’ And I think that’s just the wrong way to look at it, and I hope we can stop doing that and be inclusive, immediately.
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