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Seth Mattison gives the keynote address, “Understanding and Engaging Our Workforce,” at the 30th annual CRE Summit last Friday. (Photos by Scott Stewart)

CRE Summit Looks at Real Estate Driving Sense of Community
By Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

People need reasons to gather together in meaningful ways.

Commercial real estate professionals shape the physical space the allows for the congregation and connections that create a community one experience, and one relationship, at a time.

Attendees at the 30th annual Commercial Real Estate Summit were invited to reflect on their role in building community while also learning about new trends and opportunities during the daylong gathering at the CHI Health Center Omaha conference center.

Seth Mattison, an author and workforce trends expert, opened his keynote address with a few simple questions for the nearly 950 summit attendees: “What makes a city feel like a community? What makes a community feel like home? What is it that draws us to where we live? Why do you live where we live?’’

Mattison said community requires a deep sense of belonging, and he said Omaha has a lot of the ingredients needed for a strong community. Nebraska has significant workforce needs, with historic unemployment meaning the state needs to attract new people to join its communities.
  Commercial real estate influences the physical environments, Mattison said, so it’s important to consider whether projects are designed to create a shared sense of community. He said experience is how communities are shaped, and he encouraged employers to consider what sort of experiences their employees have at work – not just whether they’re engaged.

Experience is driven by physical space, technology and culture, Mattison said. The office water cooler, for example, offers opportunities for workers to connect, which can spark creativity and innovation. He said cities can find ways to create those organic collisions of ideas, too. He encouraged summit attendees to consider the signals they send every day and whether their efforts are aligned with the goals in the broader community to grow a talented and dedicated workforce.

“You are legacy-makers,” Mattison said. “Collectively, we are going to leave a legacy. We are going to leave a physical mark on this community. But the beautiful thing about legacy is you don’t have to wait to leave a legacy. You don’t have to wait until it’s over, until you have your swan song and you ride off into the sunset. You can leave a legacy today. You do that by the decisions you make, the actions you take and the people’s lives you impact every single day.”

The CRE Summit provided an opportunity to highlight many of those legacy makers, including the current and past mayors of Omaha, real estate brokers and others involved in the economic development of the community. 

Jerry Slusky, the conference organizer and partner at Smith Slusky Law, was recognized during an awards luncheon for his dedication to the CRE Summit and the way it has brought together the area’s commercial real estate professionals into a community of their own.

“All of us, from time to time, have worked on projects with each other,” Slusky said in opening remarks. “I personally believe that in this state and this city and the city of Lincoln, we are blessed, because we have assembled an industry for 30 years which learns from one another, networks our deals and shares our successes. And, boy, have we had some successes.”

Six new members of the CRE Summit’s Hall of Fame were inducted. The honorees were Hal Daub, senior counsel at Husch Blackwell LLP; Pat McNeil, founder and owner of McNeil Co.; Roger Morrissey, vice president of Realcorp Inc.; Allan Murow, senior partner and principal at N&M Brokerage Services LLC; and Jay Noddle, president and CEO of Noddle Cos.

David Brown, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, presented the third annual Summit Award, which recognizes overall impact of development projects on the area. NuStyle Development Corp. received this year’s award.

“This year’s winner has a habit of taking commercial properties that literally no one else wants and turns them into iconic residential, successful redevelopments,” Brown said. “They have created homes for thousands of people in our market.”

NuStyle Development also won the Omaha Development of the Year award, which was presented by Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert. NuStyle was recognized for the Atlas Apartments, which transformed the former Creighton University Medical Center facility. BIC Construction was also recognized with the Lincoln Development of the Year award for their work on the Schwarz Paper Building redevelopment.

Stothert presented the Deal of the Year Award to Colliers International and PJ Morgan Real Estate for their work with Flywheel to move the technology company to the Millwork Commons.

  Chairman’s Award, hand-picked and presented by Slusky, were given to Robert Hoig, founder and publisher of Midlands Business Journal; Todd Lieberman, executive vice president of Brinshore Development LLC for the Highlander development; and Othello Meadows, executive director and CEO of Seventy-Five North Revitalization Corp. Alex Epstein of OMNE Partners also was introduced as Slusky’s co-chair for the 2020 CRE Summit.

Jacob Franzen, a real estate student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was presented a $5,000 scholarship. Several Vision Awards also were given during the morning general session, including current and former planning directors and mayors of Omaha, as well as the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Heritage Services and the Downtown Lincoln Association.

  For more on the CRE Summit, go to attendcresummit.com.
Left: The third annual Summit Award was presented to NuStyle Development Corp. at the 2019 CRE Summit. Pictured from left are Jerry Slusky, CRE Summit chairman; Alex Epstein, CRE Summit vice chairman; David Brown, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce; and Todd Heistand, co-owner of NuStyle Development. 
Center: The Deal of the Year award was presented to Colliers International and PJ Morgan Real Estate at the 2019 CRE Summit. Pictured from left are Jean Stothert, mayor of Omaha; Alex Epstein, CRE Summit vice chairman; Chris Mensinger, vice president for Omaha at Colliers International Group Inc.; Dusty Davidson, co-founder and CEO of Flywheel; Ryan Ellis, president of PJ Morgan Real Estate; and Barry Zoob, senior vice president for Nebraska at Colliers International.
Right: The Omaha Development of the Year award was presented to NuStyle Development Corp. at the 2019 CRE Summit. Pictured from left are Jean Stothert, mayor of Omaha; Alex Epstein, CRE Summit vice chairman; and Todd Heistand, co-owner of NuStyle Development.
(Photos by Scott Stewart)





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