Twenty Under 40 Q-and-A: NV Energy’s Jesse Murray
Who are you?
Name: Jesse Murray
Profession/Title: NV Energy vice president of gas delivery
Years in Reno/Northern Nevada: 22
RENO, Nev. — In November, the Reno-Tahoe Young Professionals Network announced the winners of its annual Twenty Under 40 Awards. In all, more than 140 people across Northern Nevada were nominated for the 2019 awards, the 13th annual.
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 http://www.renotahoeypn.com to learn more about Reno-Tahoe YPN. Read this week’s Q-and-A below.
NNBW: What do you see as the top one or two biggest economic development opportunities for Northern Nevada in 2020 and beyond?
Jesse Murray: I think advanced manufacturing, obviously, is a big area of growth for us. We’re seeing a lot of new businesses at the TRI Center, we’re seeing a lot of incubation technology companies that are locating throughout Northern Nevada. I really think that is going to be a great area of growth and advancement in 2020 for Northern Nevada.
The challenge really is going to be the workforce — how do we supply the workforce for those areas? There’s definitely a professional engineering component to it, but there’s that career education component, too, that we really lack in this area. There are a lot of great organizations that are trying to build it, trying to get there, but I think we still have a ways to go.
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?
Jesse Murray: I think there are a couple reasons. Young professionals now, most of them are millennials, the largest generation in the history of the country. And so, certainly, with that generation we’re seeing a whole bunch of new values and philosophies that are associated with that generation that may not have existed in the past. They are going to be the largest percentage of the population, their more diverse, their focus is on sustainability and those types of things.
I think it’s important for their voices to be heard. They’re the ones that have to live with the directions and decisions that are made today 20-30 years from now in their professional career. Whereas someone that’s more advanced in their career may not have to live in the world that was created through the directions that are chosen now. That’s why I really think it’s important for them to be included at the table.
Q: What on-the-rise industry or industries have the biggest opportunity for growth in Northern Nevada?
Jesse Murray: I would say there’s quite a bit of entrepreneurial activity, even outside of the technology area. It’s resulting in whole areas of our town be remade in a different image. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there. You see Midtown in Reno as an example really turning into this community center.
As you see farther south at Plumb and Virginia (streets), you see some of that new infrastructure go in at Shoppers Square, the development at Park Lane, you’re really seeing it change and how we plan our city and some of the things that go into our city that I think are really exciting. There’s a lot of growth opportunities in the development area and sustainability and infrastructure — those types of things that have to go into supporting these new areas of town that are being remade.
Q: Where do you see the greater Reno-Sparks region in five years?
Jesse Murray: In this job now I spend quite a bit of time thinking about that because we provide natural gas service, so we go through very rigorous planning efforts and we look at all of the regional planning documents that we have. I think the future in Reno-Sparks as a community is very bright. I don’t really see much slowing down in the next couple of years.
We really seem to have found our stride now with identifying our community as a place that you can come, start a business, grow, raise a family. There are some really positive things — an image — that’s now being broadcast all throughout the country that I think is very positive for the community. I really see, if we can solve a couple of really critical challenges, I really see the next 3-5 years as being a really great time in Reno-Sparks.
Q: If you could change one thing for the better about your community, what would it be?
Jesse Murray: A lot of positive things are happening here, but I think we are struggling to develop a really healthy middle class in our community. We have a lot of people that are doing really well and we have a lot of people that, even though they have a job in our community or can find a job, are still struggling. And it seems to be that that missing middle is really an area that we have to focus on.
Again, to go back to the career and technical education piece … you get professionals to move to the area that have professional degrees; they can do well here. But someone that doesn’t have a professional degree, which is a majority of our population, how do we take that segment of our population — which also are generally lower on the socioeconomic scale — and get them into a position to where they can participate in the success of our community? I think that’s a big piece.
The economy is going to continue to require more and more skills, not necessarily college-level skills, but skills nonetheless. I really think this community needs to take a really hard look and focus on how we can ensure that the people who move to this area can experience the same quality of life that has been experienced here for generations and participate in the success.
To that end, organizations like TMCC, Western Nevada College, the high schools — ACE and AACT — really are where we build that foundation. You get people with skills that can work in our advanced manufacturing plants; they can make a living wage and enjoy what our community has to offer.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.