What could be better than a three-day conference of top industrial real estate professionals? How about a conference that spans 34 hours, start to finish?
That condensed schedule is a recognition of the dynamic, fast-paced competitive realities experienced by professionals who register for one or both 2023 I.CON events: I.CON West on March 8-9 in Long Beach, California, and I.CON East on June 7-8 in Jersey City, New Jersey.
“While these events are so crucial to our industry members, we also realize their time is precious,” said I.CON Committee Chair Celeste Tanner. “Especially in the current market environment, they need to be back in their home base as much as possible. We have designed I.CON to give our peers the maximum benefit in the minimum amount of time.”
The President/Chief Development Officer of Denver-based Confluent Commercial, a division of Confluent Development, Tanner has 20 years of industry experience. Her career has greatly benefited from her growing engagement as a NAIOP member, and along the way she has become one of the organization’s foremost leaders and contributors.
Q: What was your first NAIOP interaction like?
A: I was just a couple of years into my career and attended my first local chapter event with NAIOP Colorado. Being totally honest, when I walked in, I saw 250 men who had been doing this for 20 years. I looked around and thought, `This is not my show.’ I made it through the event but hardly said a word.
I was just intimidated; it was a silly reaction. What I quickly found was that – in reality – NAIOP was a hugely welcoming environment. When a young professional attends these events now, they encounter a much broader cross section of professionals, and it’s just as welcoming as always.
Q: Among other topics, I.CON 2023 programming will cover capital markets, industrial development coexisting with residential communities, labor data trends, nearshoring, industrial development in Mexico, a legislative and political outlook, and cold storage. How does the committee curate these topics?
A: That’s one of the big benefits of an organization like NAIOP, where we have more than 20,000 successful professionals with a broad range of expertise who also represent a broad range of cultural and geographic demographics.
We draw from that member base to create a strong group of volunteers who collaborate on conference calls, during in-person meetings, and through surveys that guide us on the most urgent and important topics we should address.
Q: COVID-19 has restricted in-person gatherings, to varying degrees, for nearly three years now. As these events have re-emerged, what kind of response have you observed?
A: It has been really incredible. When we were effectively kept to our rooms during the earlier phases of COVID-19, it was difficult to get a pulse on what was happening.
Since we’ve resumed meeting in person – and we continue to do so with health and safety considerations always in mind – the demand has just been overwhelming. Members have been more enthusiastic than ever before about engaging with other professionals from all over the U.S. and Canada. No matter how much the world changes, people are pretty much the same. We really are social creatures and want to collaborate – and that leads to opportunity.
Q: How does the committee strike a balance between learning and networking opportunities?
A: We give a lot of thought to creating time and space for positive networking environments. That’s really where deals get done, as people get to know each other and interact.
For example, at our CRE.Converge conference in October, I was approached by someone who had heard about a project that my company was pursuing in Texas. From that conversation, we were able to identify a relationship for that opportunity. We had never worked together before, and it would not have happened otherwise.
Q: What would you say to someone on the fence about registering for I.CON?
A: Frankly, the first thing I’d point out is that we sold out I.CON in 2022 and had to turn away registrations. We fully expect that to happen again.
Beyond that, the industrial sector in commercial real estate has been the absolute darling of the industry for years now, but that tide is now a little disrupted. Things are certainly not as predictable as they were in 2021, and the way for any professional to succeed at a point of disruption is to stay on top of the latest information, the latest opportunities.
NAIOP is the top resource for anyone seeking real-time data and relevant case studies, while also learning from the best of the best. Coming to I.CON puts you shoulder to shoulder with the leaders in industrial development and investment. This is one of the most volatile and dynamic times in our market, and you want to be on the leading edge of what’s happening.