NAR Grants Help Drive Commercial Member Engagement

One of the best ways to expand association services to a new audience and build nondues revenue is to officer commercial educational programs and networking opportunities.

The Akron Cleveland Association of REALTORS® Commercial Forum is reaping the rewards of offering such events.

With funding from NAR’s Commercial Innovation Grant program, the association launched an education program with industry partners that attracts nationally known speakers to address cutting-edge topics facing the region. These regular “What’s Driving Northeast Ohio” events—which are unlike what anyone else is doing in the area—attract both commercial and residential members, other industry professionals, and the media, says Therese Covell, the association’s professional standards and development director.

The key to the association’s commercial education event popularity is the way it provides REALTORS® with relevant information they can immediately use in their day-to-day business. “We want our presentations to be different than everyone else’s CE classes and have a clear focus on the Akron-Cleveland market,” Covell says. “Members appreciate how the expert panelists speak with a local emphasis.”

The theme of the 2017 series of events was “Technology Trends in 2020 & Beyond.” Popular sessions included how online shopping is altering traditional retail distribution, cold storage solutions for food and food prep, and the potential impact of driverless cars on commercial real estate.

“Active participation in this type of education and networking helps us know if we are making forward-looking deals that will be valuable in 20 to 30 years as we counsel our clients, users of space, developers of space, and investors,” says commercial member Howard Lichtig, SIOR.

Lichtig put that theory into practice immediately by connecting with Nick Pacitti, Tippmann Innovation’s director of cold chain consulting, who served as a panelist in a session on warehousing and logistics. “Pacitti’s comments helped me understand that there is a hole in our market and how I can respond to it,” Lichtig explains. He is now under contract to build a 400,000-squarefoot food hub coolant and freezer project in Northeast Ohio.

Looking Under the Hood

“What’s Driving Northeast Ohio: Technology Trends in 2020 & Beyond” was held in October 2017 in the Main Classroom Auditorium at Cleveland State University, where the Akron Cleveland Association enjoys strong relationships with the business school. Several students from CSU’s Urban Studies and MBA programs attended the 2017 event, connecting REALTORS® and current students seeking post-graduate real estate careers.

“One of our large commercial brokers has established an internship with CSU students,” Covell says, “and hired two CSU grads to work for his fi rm as researchers.” Not all of these graduates will become brokers, of course, but they will participate in real estate.

In October, the association will host “What’s Driving Northeast Ohio: Neighborhoods” with a focus on what local and national trends are driving neighborhood redevelopment and revitalization.

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