Leadership compass

A Conversation with the 2022 NAIOP Chair

In the Spring issue of Development magazine, I shared some of my views on NAIOP’s value to our members and what I’m looking forward to as the 2022 Chair. As I wrote that column, I found I had much more to say than space allowed! So, I’m sharing a bit more of the conversation with our Market Share blog readers. If you already haven’t, I’d invite you to read the At Closing column in the Spring issue of the magazine.

Jeff Milanaik
Partner, Northeast Region, Bridge Industrial, and 2022 NAIOP Chair

Under your leadership, what will NAIOP focus on in 2022?

I have three goals for the year, which you may have heard me mention on other occasions, but they bear repeating. First, we’ll work hard to inform and unify our members around NAIOP’s efforts to address legislative initiatives that could unduly impact the industry. Second, I’m extending NAIOP’s commitment to educate our members on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), as well as helping our members understand the importance of working toward Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals. Finally, we’ll work hard to reinforce the value proposition and strength of NAIOP membership.

The pandemic revealed much about the way associations support their members, and one of the most important to me is that NAIOP stood out among the pack, providing timely news and education that carried many of us through the uncertain days, particularly early on as everything was suddenly upended.

Your career has been largely in the New Jersey market. What are the strengths of this region? How has it grown and changed?

New Jersey has one of the highest population densities in the U.S. We are extremely well-positioned between Boston and Washington, D.C., which enables us to efficiently serve the Northeast via I-95. Over the years I’ve watched New Jersey reinvent itself by adapting to the loss of major industries, then pivot and embrace the logistics industry, which today has become a major driver of our state economy. NAIOP New Jersey has been integral in facilitating this growth, and collectively, the industrial real estate industry has come together to work with state government both here and in New York to tackle big issues, such as elevating the Bayonne Bridge to allow post-Panamax ships access to the ports. This type of collaboration has allowed the logistics industry to grow and become a stronger source of employment in the region.

Developing Leaders comprise a quarter of NAIOP’s membership. Why is engaging this generation important?

Over the years the real estate industry has matured and attracted extremely talented professionals. More than 15 years ago, NAIOP launched a dedicated effort to integrate young professionals into the association with its Developing Leaders (DL) program, which was then focused on millennials. Now, of course, that includes both millennials and the rising Generation Z.

Combined, millennials and Generation Z comprise nearly half of today’ workforce, and they’re rising as leaders both at their companies and in NAIOP. To keep our industry looking ahead, attracting – and more importantly, retaining – these generations is essential. This is where I see the strength of our on-demand courses through NAIOP’s The Center for Education, as well as our DL National Forums program. Of course, our chapters are essential in introducing our DLs to local leaders, providing connections and education, and ensuring that they can build a local professional network. The DL program is the future and lifeblood of NAIOP, and it’s exciting to see how it has expanded over the years.

What innovations do you think have made the biggest impact on the industry in the last five years?

For the logistics industry, technology has, without a doubt, strategically expanded both how we develop and what our tenants do inside the facilities. While progress in automation, information technology and artificial intelligence has already yielded significant impacts on our industry, I believe that we are still in what we’ll recognize later as the early phases, and the growth and advances in technology in the years to come will be awe-inspiring.


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