If you are passionate about your community, want to help build your neighborhood and are interested in a career in the local real estate industry, you now have the opportunity to apply to the Associates in Commercial Real Estate training program. ACRE will accept 20 students for the fall session.
ACRE prepares students to work in real estate development, and property and construction management. The program aims to improve diversity in the city’s real estate industry, which is 95 percent Caucasian, according to Milwaukee’s Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).
To help correct the imbalance, LISC is partnering with Marquette University’s College of Business Administration and the Milwaukee School of Engineering to offer the training program that will start in the fall of 2014, after being on hiatus since 2010.
The training involves classroom learning, introductions to leaders in the field and opportunities to network. Students are also asked to develop projects as part of the class.
Mitchell Street Market Lofts, 1948 W. Mitchell St., is an example of a project that got its start in an ACRE class. Sherry Terrell-Webb and Tina Anderson created the idea of an affordable housing complex in the Mitchell Street neighborhood, which also includes a farmers market, during the 2008-2009 ACRE program. They completed the project in 2012 after bringing together investors, contractors and the city.
ACRE’s re-launch kicked off at a recent gathering of graduates, program leaders and people interested in learning more about it at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee headquarters.
One of the best parts of ACRE is networking, said Joaquin Altoro, a vice president of Town Bank and an ACRE graduate.
Dr. Mark Eppli, interim dean at Marquette’s College of Business Administration, said he started the program after he noticed people of color and women were unable to participate in reinvestment in the central city because “they didn’t have networking opportunities. Now they do.”
He and Bob Lemke, a Milwaukee School of Engineering faculty member and developer, are working together to provide the teaching space, outreach and curriculum for the ACRE program. Industry trade associations are helping to line up speakers.
Nearly 150 alumni have graduated from the program. Among them are Melissa Goins, founder and president of the Maures Development Group. She told the attendees at the kick-off celebration that she grew up on 24th and Center streets. Since she completed the ACRE class, her company has developed properties on the city’s North Side and is now expanding into Bay View.
Altoro said bringing together people of diverse backgrounds to help revitalize Milwaukee will change the face of neighborhoods by better reflecting the people who live there. “They are familiar with what they need and want,” according to Altoro.
He advocates celebrating the city’s diversity,. “The German, Polish and Italian communities, if I am correct, they built for themselves,” said Altoro. Churches, he pointed out, are examples of buildings created by these ethnic groups that everyone can enjoy.
“What if there were more available opportunities for [diverse] communities to build for Milwaukee and themselves?” he asked.
Keith Stanley, executive director of the Avenues West Association, is also an ACRE graduate. He said he learned about the “good, the bad and the ugly of the field” while in the program. The knowledge, he said, “puts the power in our hands. We control our destiny.”
The program offers the community another benefit besides career building, according to Stanley. Some of the graduates “serve as role models for African- American children in the city,” he said, adding that if the children see people they know changing the community, they know they can change their world as well.
The ACRE program tuition is covered by funds from donors, including developer Barry Mandel and The Opus Group. Students will be asked to put down a $300 deposit that will be returned when they successfully complete the program.
Background requirements for applicants include a high school degree, proficient knowledge of Microsoft Excel, math and verbal skills, and interest in the real estate industry as a career.
Applications are due by June 21.
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