New Voices - REAP Expanding Into Los Angeles Market
By: Leslie Silvey, senior marketing manager, NAIOP
Eric Heyward, 2011 REAP Atlanta Graduate, and Gregg McCort, REAP’s Executive Director
The highly-acclaimed Real Estate Associate Program (REAP) has seen much success in recruiting and placing talented minority professionals into commercial real estate careers in the Washington, D.C., Atlanta and New York markets, and will achieve its goal of becoming a coast-to-coast program by expanding the program to Los Angeles in September.
Gregg McCort, REAP’s executive director, recently spoke about the steps the organization is taking in establishing the new diversity initiative in Los Angeles. “We already have sponsor companies lined up in this market and our association partners, which include NAIOP, ICSC and ULI among others, will also help spread the word,” said McCort. “We are currently conducting a major push for program recruits and have partnered with a marketing company that specifically targets minority professionals. We believe that Los Angeles will see a large number of program applicants.”
The accomplished participants comprising each REAP class come from successful backgrounds in other fields such as law, sales, architecture and engineering and want to stake their place in the competitive commercial real estate industry. REAP prepares career-minded professionals for leadership positions with some of the nation’s leading firms by providing them with exclusive education, networking and on-the-job training opportunities.
The program is backed by the largest organizations in commercial real estate, including NAIOP, and selectively chooses each REAP class of 25 through a stringent screening process. The first REAP class launched in Washington, D.C. in 1997 and the program has since expanded to the New York City and Atlanta markets. Since its inception, REAP has placed more than 80 associates with leading commercial real estate firms across the country.
REAP associates participate in a comprehensive 13-week, 26-class program comprised of industry education courses conducted by senior-level commercial real estate practitioners. In addition to gaining real-world industry education, the program offers participants an exclusive opportunity to network with influential leaders from industry-leading firms. The networking events also benefit the commercial real estate firms by shortening the bridge between companies looking for outstanding talent and the diverse talent pool of REAP associates.
“Many companies have diversity initiatives and by associating with the REAP program, they gain unprecedented, direct access to highly-talented minority professionals which is much more efficient than going through traditional means of recruiting,” said McCort. “For example, CB Richard Ellis just came on as a national sponsor – they were looking for a more centralized way to gain access to the talented REAP associates.”
Previously, upon completion of the program, the top six or seven students from each REAP class were directly placed in commercial real estate firms. Due to the trickle down effects of the recession, the way REAP graduates are hired upon completing the program has changed somewhat, noted McCort. “Since the hiring slowdown we saw during the recession, the placement process has changed a bit,” he said. “Now all REAP associates get the same opportunities to interface with top executives through classroom interaction and networking events so every participant has a commensurate chance for placement within a leading firm versus placing only the top select participants.”
As for the future, McCort hopes to see REAP eventually add more programs in the South and Midwest regions and noted that there has already been an expressed interest in the Charlotte and Dallas markets. The program has also expanded to Chicago.
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