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Announcing our New Real Estate Fellows and Venture Competition For Students and Alumni of the University of Baltimore

These are exciting times to be a real estate developer in Baltimore. With a number of new initiatives designed to grow the city’s economy, and new zoning regulations to better support real estate development, the University of Baltimore is excited to launch the UB Real Estate Fellows and Venture Competition (REFVC) — an innovative way to support emerging developers who have the education and desire to work in Baltimore, but lack experience in the management and financing requirements of real estate development. The REFVC is the culmination of months of internal and external planning, all focused on how the University of Baltimore can deliver the metropolitan area’s best educational experience in real estate development – from envisioning a project straight through to its funding and construction. In that regard, Baltimore deserves the very best in terms of intellectual prowess, work ethic, and more.

The competition, launching this month, will provide a series of curated trainings with local development experts and community tours for the student fellows chosen to participate. Each of the fellows will identify a neighborhood, create a project, complete a development plan and usher through an application for underwriting. The goal is for students to provide a “pitch” for a development project that is feasible and addresses a genuine community need. The winning proposal will get the necessary financing up to $1 million in a Guidance Line of Credit from Baltimore Community Lending (BCL), a local U.S. Treasury Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

For the past five years, as director of the Real Estate & Economic Development (REED) program in the Merrick School of Business, I, along with my colleagues, have been working with our students to train them in business and real estate principles with a particular focus on applied learning and social entrepreneurship. I have watched these dedicated students, many of whom are fine craftspeople who have developed or “flipped” one or two properties at a time, attempt to grow their skills into a sustainable development business. But moving from a small-business to a mid-sized one requires two kinds of access: to capital and to a good team with whom they can gain the experience to help them reach a recurring level of financial and development success. Indeed, real estate development is never a “one and done” experience. Success in this field is measured in how many times the developer has negotiated his or her way through the process. With the UB Real Estate Fellows and Venture Competition, we intend to ensure a great experience and a successful outcome. The winners are many: the students, the city, UB, and our incredible diversity of neighborhoods.

Good Timing for Development

The ability to offer this kind of program is extremely timely. With the completion of the City’s new zoning code in 2017 that helps clarify the rules of development, major capital investments in 21st century schools, the upcoming disbursements of the community catalyst grants by the City’s Department of Housing, and innovative financing resources through Mayor Pugh’s Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund and federal Opportunity Zones spurring development in emerging neighborhoods, we are sitting on the cusp of great things happening in Baltimore. But this optimism comes after a long period of uncertainty: since the economic downturn of 2007, Baltimore has lost several competent mid-sized development teams that specialize in development projects ranging from $2 million to $10million. Yes, the economy has recovered, but the problem today is the lack of developers with the financial equity, experience and bandwidth to continue the rebuilding and stabilization of challenged neighborhoods.

To be prepared for these impending opportunities, I am very excited to launch our new University of Baltimore Real Estate Fellows and Venture Competition in partnership with BCL. With their perspective from the lending side, BCL is also interested in supporting developers who can provide workforce housing and other neighborhood amenities in middle-market areas.  The challenge in many well-established neighborhoods has been both awareness of and access to capital for otherwise potentially competent and supportable developers located in Baltimore City.

With our UB students and alum eager to engage in more socially-conscientious development, and BCL looking to lend to sustainable developers in middle-market neighborhoods, a happy match was born! The 2019 UB Real Estate Fellows and Venture Competition provides a series of curated trainings with local development experts and community tours for the student starting in February through May 2019.

This project provides students and alumni who are learning about or have experience in Real Estate and Economic Development and want to start their own business with the hands-on technical assistance that only comes with experience, trial and error. Students at UB are generally working professionals during the day, so will be paid at least $1,000 as a Fellow so that participants in the challenge can take every advantage of the program.

Working also with UB’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) that routinely conducts student business competitions such as “Startup Maryland”, students will have access to CEI resources on how to put together a successful pitch. The final pitch competition will be scheduled during the week of June 3.

Partners in the Project

The REED Program at the University of Baltimore is the only undergraduate program of its kind in Maryland and began in 2007. There are currently 45 matriculating students, several of whom have some small-scale experience in construction and development and come to UB in hopes of growing a business. Incubating the next generation of mid-sized developers is of critical importance to the City of Baltimore. The REED program and the REFVC is supported by an active Advisory Board who represent all sectors within the metropolitan real estate industry and will be involved to provide guidance to the students during the competition.

BCL also has existing relationships with banks in the region such as PNC, BB&T M&T and other local financial institutions who will be a part of the evaluation and selection process.

Real Estate And Economic Development (REED) and Real Estate Law Association (RELA) Students Participate In 7th Annual Saul Ewing Real Estate Conference

In November 2015, University of Baltimore’s Real Estate and Economic Development (REED) program students along with Real Estate Law Association (RELA) students were invited to attend the 7th Annual Saul Ewing Real Estate Conference, held at the Baltimore Convention Center.

UBsaulewingPictured left to right are: Bob Aydukovic, UB Executive in Residence (REED) President of MCCEI; Seema Iyer, Director of UB’s Real Estate and Economic Development (REED); Duncan May, UB Law Real Estate Student; Paul Rodriguez, UB Law Real Estate Student; Zachary Hansen, UB Law Real Estate Student; Howard Majev, Saul Ewing; Michael Culp, UB REED Student; Judith Neighoff, UB REED Student. Not pictured:William Carter, Christopher Shaner and George Rice.

More than 250 professionals engaged in the commercial real estate industry from around the country, including developers, brokers, bankers and affiliated companies that service this sector attended the program. This year’s event was titled “Real Estate in 2016 – Adapting and Succeeding in a Changing Industry,” and featured a Dealmakers panel that examined new opportunities that exist in the real estate marketplace. The keynote speaker was Linda Madway, Vice President and General Counsel of RioCan who provided “fresh perspectives on the U.S. real estate market.”

The students were tasked with writing summaries of the break-out sessions focused on millennials, e-commerce, technology and other trends transforming the real estate industry; an examination of the multi-family sector and finding equity and debt in today’s evolving marketplace, as well as the luncheon presentation and dealmakers panel. See the full agenda for the event.

  • Dealmakers Panel- Recognizing New Opportunities in the Marketplace–By Duke May Saul Ewing Summary
  • Panel: Time to Take Another Look at the Multifamily Sectorby George Rice Saul Ewing Rice
  • Dealmakers Panel – Understanding and Taking Advantage of the New Opportunities in the Marketplace –By Christopher Shaner SaulEwingConference

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“EMC”: The Entrepreneur, The Manager and The Capitalist

No endeavor or enterprise can reach its full potential if it does not take advantage of what I call “EMC”: the entrepreneur/manager/capitalist approach to progress. Individuals and organizations can benefit equally – and avoid insurmountable challenges that may come from within or from the outside – by considering the answers to the questions that EMC raises for you:

• the “entrepreneur”: What is it that we do? Why do we do it? Whom does it benefit?
• the “manager”: How do we lead, direct and support the people, systems and resources critical to the mission?
• the “capitalist”: How do we make a profit? How do we maximize our value to stakeholders and investors?

Very rarely does an individual possess the natural ability and intuitiveness to serve in all three of these roles over the course of his or her lifetime. Some extraordinary few, like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs, manage to do more than one at a time. Accordingly, as we grow and evolve, we can learn who and what we are within the EMC rubric, and act accordingly. We learn what we can and can’t be responsible for, where we need help and collaboration, how we can gain support to achieve our goals. Remember that our individualized EMC is a target, a goal – and it’s often a team effort. No matter what we’re doing, we must learn to trust others – and model behavior that allows others to trust in us as well.

A Personal Example:

When I was in college and studying business, I believed that I could get a job that would pay me to develop an idea and provide me with the tools and resources I needed to complete the task. My perspective was pretty straightforward: “I am a good worker, smart, and certain that whatever you, as my employer, needed me to do, I could deliver. I, along with about 200,000 other students with the same perspective, were trying to live up to that standard. At that point in my life, I was the “E” in the EMC approach: completely entrepreneurial, independent, a self-starter.

I thought I could go it alone—organize my life around school, work and a social life, and achieve my goals, no problem. I was wrong. Instead, over time I recognized that I needed help to stay focused, forge my path, and successfully graduate in order to get the job I wanted. It was a university adviser who supported me so I could develop a better schedule, and strike out on a more efficient and focused path to reach my goal. Furthermore, her suggestions led me to discover study groups and resources previously unknown to me. She was the “M,” the manager, in the EMC approach.

My “M” also helped me overcome other obstacles along the way, such as when she introduced me to a grant program and additional resources that were willing to invest in my education. They were willing to invest in me because they saw that I could be a productive member of the community, and eventually pay back what I had borrowed. They served as the “C,” the all-important capitalists, in my drive to be successful.

The EMC approach to our endeavors in life is universal. Any idea requires conception, management, execution and funding—often more than once. Your education, personal relationships, job, a new business, or a social program: all of these require the same three critical elements, if your greatest potential is to be realized. Furthermore, the most wonderful characteristic of EMC optics is that while the elements are always the same, their application and development are dynamic. The entrepreneur, the manager, and the capitalist all live within each of us, and grows and evolves as we do.

Athan Sunderland is an advisory board member of UB’s Real Estate program and executive vice president for Pinkard Properties. Over the past 15 years, he has represented the investment interests of several asset classes spanning local office buildings to multi-billion dollar REITs. Athan’s commitment to a customer-centric approach has been recognized with both peer- and industry-sponsored awards.