Jeff Milanaik

Reflections from the 2022 Chair: A Year of Rebuilding and Expanding

NAIOP 2022 Chair Jeff Milanaik shared this message with the board of directors during the Annual Meeting, held at CRE.Converge 2022 in Chicago. It has been edited for clarity and length.

What a year it has been!

We knew from the beginning that 2022 was going to be a rebuilding year for the economy as well as our businesses as we returned to a new sense of normalcy following COVID-19.

However, I don’t think anyone here thought the “rebuilding” would also be at NAIOP, including the hiring of both a new chief financial officer and chief executive officer. Each person on our board of directors played a vital role in those important tasks, and I want to thank them for their candidness and support throughout it all.

One of the key lessons I’ve learned this year is that no matter how strong of an organization we are, or how much we think our members and chapters understand, we can always do better.

Communicating the value proposition of this organization, what we’re doing on Capitol Hill, new education and research initiatives – those are messages that need to be emphasized and repeated often. We’re all busy individuals balancing our businesses, families and association participation, so the more often we are reminded about all NAIOP is doing, the more educated we’ll all be.

Earlier this year, I began harboring a feeling that a recession may be on the horizon. We weren’t yet seeing it reflected in the economy, but it was a sense I couldn’t ignore.

At I.CON West in the spring, my feelings were validated when keynote economist Christopher Thornberg described how the influx of money into the pockets of Americans from the U.S. Treasury led to increased demand, accelerating our supply chain issues all contributing toward the inflationary pressures we’re experiencing today.

This is my fourth real estate cycle, and I consistently share with the younger professionals at Bridge that it’s organizations like NAIOP that will help us get through it. Our education, exposure to economists and thought leaders, and research give us access to real-time information that will help us make good decisions daily.

Last fall, I shared with you my goals as chair, and I’m pleased that much progress has been made.

The first is our expanding commitments to ESG and DEI. Across the industry, we’re seeing significant strides on both, thanks to a global mindfulness and rising generation of employees and tenants who have strong expectations.

Specific to DEI, it’s great to see NAIOP playing a key role in a cross-collaboration of real estate organizations that are developing a database to connect diverse-owned businesses with CRE companies.

The second is a major legislative win for commercial real estate earlier this fall. Our federal legislative team worked hard to protect our industry in the Inflation Reduction Act, which initially targeted CRE by altering the tax treatment of carried interests.

Ultimately, carried interest changes were removed from the bill, and I’d like to recognize NAIOP’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Aquiles Suarez for his leadership, as well our NAIOP Arizona chapter, led by Chapter Executive Suzanne McKinney, for their efforts in working with Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who played a key role in the legislation. 

In closing, I want to acknowledge and thank our board and the NAIOP staff who have adapted to much change this year without missing a beat. You are an amazing team of talented and focused individuals, and I have been blessed to work with you so closely this past year.

I wish Kim Snyder, my successor, all the success in the world next year. He is going to take the association to new levels.

I’d be remiss in not thanking my business partners at Bridge for their understanding of the importance of NAIOP and my commitment to the association this year, as well as the NAIOP New Jersey chapter and my family for their support.

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