Twenty-two participants from differing economic development experience levels, five speakers from across the industry, four funding panel experts and a remote northern Michigan setting was the recipe for a successful Real Estate Development Boot Camp 2017.
Every year the goal of Boot Camp is to equip attendees with the knowledge and skills needed to manage or get involved in affordable housing projects. From tax credits to pro formas, site selection to underwriting, students were walked through the nuts and bolts of deals that could do many things: provide barrier-free housing; help low-income residents afford safe, comfortable housing; give residents access to supportive services; bring sustainability measures to neighborhoods; restore historic buildings and much more.
Lead trainer Kirsten Elliott (VP of Development at Community Housing Network & CEDAM board member) ran engaging sessions pulling from a wide breadth of affordable and supportive housing personal experience, helping turn what could have been rather difficult material into inspiring, honest advisement and critical information for students.
Four additional speakers, all of whom play integral roles in making real estate development deals happen, presented on a range of topics. Michael Stefanko of Loomis Law Firm spoke on legal structures, David Allen of MSHDA on market analysis, Joe Heaphy of Ethos Development Partners on layered financing and Katie Vondra of Cinnaire on property management and marketing.
The outcome? Conference attendees were able to understand the full picture, and had the opportunity to ask questions of the people they could very well be working with in the future.
“CEDAM’s Real Estate [Development] Boot Camp was a great opportunity to learn the foundational knowledge required to begin developing affordable housing in Michigan,” said Dakota Riehl, Real Estate Development Associate at the Inner City Christian Federation. “Not only were the lessons, presentations and guest speakers extremely educational, meeting other developers – both experienced and novice – was one of the best elements of the training.”
After 2 ½ days of diving into the industry, the students were then given the task of working in groups to pull together a potential project proposal. Site plans were laid out, pro formas were calculated and presentations were given. The funding panel, comprised of Jason Paulateer of PNC and CEDAM board member, Tim Strasz of Opportunity Resources Fund, Dawn Everett of MSHDA and Megan Coler of Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis offered the chance for the students to receive feedback from the people who actually review applications and fund projects.
“Although the projects were hypothetical, it was a great experience to pitch our ideas and projects to those individuals who work so closely with the funds necessary to make our future developments a reality,” said Riehl.
While the presentations themselves would require some imagination, all of the sites selected were real projects that a member of each group wants to take on in the future or is already in the works, making the feedback they received that much more valuable.
About a two-hour drive from our home base of Lansing, the Kettunen Center in Tustin, Michigan served as a perfect location to feel just far enough away from the office, and allowed everyone to learn while enjoying what Michigan has to offer — water, the beach and plenty of trails to explore.
If you couldn’t attend this year’s Boot Camp but are interested in attending next year, email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure you receive information on it in early 2018.