More than 600 CRE professionals of color from across the nation gathered in New York to attend the largest Diversity in Commercial Real Estate conference in the U.S. The two-day event, organized by Avant-Garde Network, had two major goals: exposure and opportunity, according to Adeola Adejobi, Esq., founder.
“Our organization is all about providing communities of color with ample exposure to economic opportunities, then developing strategies to enable our audience to take advantage of those opportunities,” she said. While fewer than one-third of the attendees work in other fields such as law or are early in their career path, close to 70% are already real estate professionals though not necessarily focused on CRE.
The first day focused on the basics of commercial real estate and how to gain entry into an industry dominated by families with long legacies. The program explored innovative financing options including the Emerging Developer Loan Fund and New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs); opportunity zones; deal structuring; underwriting; deal packaging; and financing. The second day featured panel discussions on real estate finance and private equity, affordable housing, opportunity zones, retail real estate, home ownership, real estate investing, and national market opportunities and real estate development.
Speakers included Meredith Marshall, managing partner and co-founder of BRP Companies, Margaret Anadu, partner and head of Urban Investment Group at Goldman Sachs and Dan Bythewood, Jr., president of La Cité Development. Special honors were awarded to Anadu, John Banks, president emeritus of REBNY, Adenah Bayoh, founder and CEO of Adenah Bayoh & Companies and John Crossman, CEO of Crossman and Company.