Next Generation of Real Estate Leaders
ACRE, established in 2005, works to increase diversity in development arena
Twenty new local graduates have joined a 12-year-old program aimed at bringing robust diversity into Milwaukee’s commercial real estate industry.
The 2016-17 graduates, who come from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds, were honored Tuesday at a graduation ceremony at Marquette University for completing the Associates in Commercial Real Estate, or ACRE, program.
A cross-section of representatives in local government, education and the business community spoke to the impact ACRE has had on Milwaukee the past dozen years.
Barry Mandel, president of real estate development company The Mandel Group, had a role in bringing ACRE to Milwaukee. During the ceremony, Mandel spoke to the seeds that were planted in 2004 as discussions got underway.
As he reflected on the decade-plus since that pivotal planning exercise, Mandel said he believes the time for a program such as ACRE is needed now more than ever before as issues surrounding jobs, transportation and affordable housing percolate.
“I see more opportunity today than at any other time in my career,” Mandel said.
ACRE, which is supported by the commercial real estate industry, has been a part of the Milwaukee educational landscape because of a number of partnerships.
The 26-week program begins each year in September and wraps in May. It is administered through LISC Milwaukee and in partnership with three of the city’s public and private higher-education institutions: Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Although education into the world of commercial real estate is at the foundation of ACRE, networking opportunities are another important part of the two-pronged process.
“This city is at a point in its history where it is changing,” said Rocky Marcoux, who has been the commissioner of Milwaukee’s Department of City Development since 2004. “We are a minority majority community.”
Programs such as ACRE, Marcoux said, are another step toward ensuring development leaders in the community more closely align with Milwaukee’s diverse population.
“You are our future,” Marcoux said. “You will touch this city in a way that will leave lasting impressions. This is your community. Own it.”
During the ceremony, an ACRE alum spoke to the impact the program has had on her life the past several years.
“I thought I knew it all, but then I got into ACRE and realized I didn’t,” said Ariam Kesete, AK Development LLC, who is a member of the 2016 class.
In the years since she has left the program, Kesete said she has adopted a global way of thinking and applied it at the local level.
“Poverty is not a neighborhood; it is a mindset,” Kesete said. “In order to be a strong community, you have to have strong leadership. In order for this kind of program to work, we have to be able to connect as people.”
Chris Laurent with Cinnaire has served as ACRE’s instructor from the get-go. He lauded each of the 20 graduates for scheduling time into busy professional and personal lives and successfully completing the program.
“This is a real commitment for these folks” Laurent said. “It’s a juggling act.”
This year’s graduates include: