Wow, what a year this has been for all of us. It has been my honor and privilege to serve as NAIOP chair, even as the association and industry – and really, the whole world – took a turn and we’ve had to reimagine how we communicate, connect and work.
When we started the year, I outlined my goals of adding value to our members’ experiences, engaging CEOs and Developing Leaders, and creating opportunities for our members to connect and learn from one another.
Although what I had envisioned as a year on the road, visiting chapters and talking to members, suddenly came to a stop in March, I’m grateful that I was able to spend a few days together with our chapter leaders during the February Chapter Leadership and Legislative Retreat in February. I enjoyed talking with so many of our members and celebrating your many successes across the chapter network.
I am so proud of the way this organization responded to the pandemic’s immediate impact on our industry. Within literally a matter of days, we were hosting webinars, looking at new research, and building an online resource center.
We made the strategic decision to make this content open to the entire industry, and it’s yielded some new NAIOP members and connected us with leaders previously not engaged with our content. More than 8,000 industry leaders participated in our COVID-related programs, taking that valuable knowledge right back to their businesses and experiencing firsthand the value of NAIOP.
In April, we announced that NAIOP was opening the entire library of on-demand courses at no cost to members. This tremendous opportunity was vital in keeping ourselves and our teams up to date on the fundamentals of our industry and the latest trends in development. By August 1, we had more than 10,000 enrollments in our courses, and many individuals were able to earn a certificate of advanced study.
From entry-level brokers to C-suite executives, our courses have proven to be valuable, and needless to say, this free course initiative was a key resource provided at just the right time.
Development magazine published an entire issue dedicated to the pandemic, the challenges and the way ahead, and new studies by the NAIOP Research Foundation have provided practical guidance.
Whether you participated in a webinar, met new colleagues on a virtual roundtable, or simply kept up with it all through our Market Share blog, no doubt you looked to NAIOP as a leading, steady resource during this uncertain time.
Legislatively, our team worked at the federal level for provisions in CARES Act and subsequent relief packages, as well as in states and provinces, to represent the industry and ensure that well-meaning legislative actions don’t create unintended consequences.
And finally, our events have been successfully repositioned to deliver the same high level of education and networking that we’ve come to expect at NAIOP. I know you’ll agree with me that nothing replaces face-to-face events, and we’ll all eagerly return to those as soon as we can. However, I can attest to the fact that online conferences are a valuable way to learn and connect.
And we’ve all become Zoom experts and have increased our tech skills ten-fold!
So while I wasn’t able to accomplish the goals I’d set forth in the ways I thought I would, I’m proud to say that this organization made this year so much more meaningful for me, and I’m gratified by the work we’ve accomplished together.
Quite honestly, sometimes it takes a pandemic to bring us together. In the spring, NAIOP staff and I began meeting weekly with chapter executives and staff to talk through challenges, brainstorm solutions, and share what we were experiencing locally. That hour was one of the most insightful of my week! The support offered between our chapters and the generation of ideas that came from those conversations have helped us all feel more connected to each other and to the organization.
Last year, I told you that I felt a bit lucky to be leading the association through what we all expected would be a prosperous year for our industry. Today, I’ll tell you that I feel a lot lucky to have led the association through this journey.
I’d like to say a few thanks, particularly to my colleagues on my Office I National Forum, who have supported and guided me this year.
To my partners at Everwest, who believe in giving back to our industry as a duty and allowed me to work on behalf of all of you.
And to my wife Carol and our family for their encouragement, although the time they expected I would be on the road for NAIOP actually turned into quite a lot of time with each other as we quarantined at home together!
Thank you for putting your trust in me this year as your chair.
Larry Lance is Executive Vice President – Asset Services of EverWest Real Estate Partners. He is the 2020 NAIOP Chair.