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Annual Commercial Real Estate Event to ‘Break Down Barriers’ and ‘Adapt’ on Friday, April 8 By Julien R. Fielding

More than 35 commercial real estate industry leaders sit on the Planning Committee for the CRE Summit. “Their objective is to keep on making the annual commercial real estate event as dynamic, relevant and fresh as possible,” said Jerry Slusky, event founder and partner at Smith Slusky Law. “This year is no different."

“For 27 years now, the CRE Summit has provided CRE professionals with the information they need to maintain their success and progress,” he said. “At our first monthly Planning Committee meeting in September, the Committee Members identified several new areas of change going on in our industry that need to be explained.”

At that meeting, this year’s topic, Breaking Down Barriers: Adapting to a Changing World, was born, and as a result, every Summit session will deal with that subject in one way or another.

The opening panel, moderated by Randy Thelen, senior vice-president of economic development at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, will discuss the challenges faced by those in the Omaha and Lincoln markets and how they can be confronted and dealt with.

“Last year, the Chamber coordinated with us; this year, they are in full partnership,” Slusky said.

“The business community has recognized how important it is for their members to understand the issues confronting our CRE members, and likewise, our members benefit from understanding the needs of the business community. It is a perfect fit for moving our community ahead.”

Thelen agreed: “Our economic development goals are tightly aligned with the commercial real estate sectors goals – we each want to see this region continue to prosper. We work very closely with the commercial brokers across the region, so it makes perfect sense for us to align with them for the CRE Summit. It brings a collection of business and real estate leaders together to learn and discuss the big trends and opportunities facing our region. With attendance approaching 1,000 leaders, it is one of our market’s top events.”

Next on the agenda, Todd Richardson, senior partner and manager of Husch Blackwell, will dive into the topic of sourcing capital and alternative real estate investments.

“People know if they buy a house, they need 20 percent equity in order to obtain a loan,” Slusky said,

“In the commercial real estate market, the equity required can amount to millions of dollars.” This session will look at issues in obtaining equity for real estate projects, including potential ways to source equity capital, structuring considerations, and discussion regarding alternative real estate investments.

“In 45 minutes, this impressive panel of professionals will explain the various sources of equity, which is the driver for the continued growth of the CRE market,” Slusky added.

The breakout sessions will tackle specific concerns. The first morning session, Labor and Cost Concerns, will address how companies are adapting to the rise in supply cost, and the shortage in supplies and skilled labor.

“Omaha has low unemployment, which is causing big problems in the construction trades,” Slusky said. “It’s hard to get plumbers, framers, and electricians.”

Jeff Lake of Olsson Associates and Andy Stine of the Kiewit Building Group will moderate. Panelists include Chad Beeson, director of project management at Tetrad Property Group; Dave Johnson, AIA/Studio 951; Jacob Vogel, president of MMC Mechanical Contractors; and Nathan Mittag, project manager at AWS, LLC.

Another morning breakout session, moderated by Tanya Shapiro, senior vice-president of multi-family residential property management at The Lund Company, along with single-home, residential professionals, will give attendees a full update on the single and multi-family housing market.

“You can no longer build a house today for less than $225,000 or $250,000. The days of the $150,000 to $160,000 house are over,” Slusky said. “We will talk about affordability and how this is affecting the market. Right now, the demand for apartments and homes continues at a high level, but there are warning signs that will be discussed.”

Omaha has a new Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds, Diane Battiato, and she has “brought new ideas to the office,” Slusky said. “She and her staff want to share those ideas with us.” Her breakout session will educate attendees on the new Archived Access System and the discussion will also focus on the Assessor’s informal processes for appealing property taxes.

From 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., attendees will take a break for the Hall of Fame luncheon, during which CRE will honor past Hall of Fame recipients and induct the 2016 Hall of Fame. Development of the Year and Deal of the Year awards will also be presented.

Following lunch, breakout sessions continue, including a roundtable discussion of current legal real estate topics and trends, which is presented by the Nebraska Fellows of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. Smith Slusky Law sponsors this session.

“I’ve asked my fellow real estate attorneys to talk about tips for creating better real estate purchase agreements, land use, due diligence, difficulties in the entitlement process and the increasing cost of development,” Slusky said. Jon Blumenthal of Baird Holm; Larry Jobeun of Fullenkamp, Doyle & Jobeun; Mike Matejka of Woods & Aitken; Trev Peterson of Knudson Law; Dan Smith of Smith Slusky Law; and Warren Whitted of Houghton Bradford Whitted will participate.

Additional afternoon topics include Title and Appraisal Breakout, Incentives in Real Estate Development and the Ins and Outs of the Planning Department. About the latter, Slusky said he “asked if the city would give us a road map on planning.” Cassie Seagren, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff for economic development, David Fanslau, assistant director of the Omaha Planning Department; and Jennifer Taylor, assistant city attorney for planning and development will participate.

Adapting to a Changing World means listening to the voices of the past as well as those of the future. The CRE Summit will open with a video of young professionals and leaders in the community and look at how they have broken down barriers. They will also talk about the challenges they feel the future poses.

Just before Jim Abbott, a retired major league baseball pitcher, who played despite having been born without a right hand, delivers his keynote speech on breaking down his own barriers, the Summit will present words of wisdom from our community “caretakers.”

“We have an amazing group of experienced business leaders who will speak on a panel chaired by Sara Boyd, president and CEO of the Omaha Community Foundation.

“The panel will address how to hand off the torch,” Slusky said, and will include panelists Clark Lauritzen, executive vice-president, First National Bank; Diane Lozier, The Lozier Foundation; Sue Morris, CEO, Heritage Services; Paul Smith, Tenaska; and Lynn Ziegenbein, executive director, Peter Kiewit Foundation. As always, the day ends with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, which has historically been an outstanding opportunity to network.

The 2015 CRE Summit saw record-breaking attendance of nearly 700 commercial real estate professionals, and Slusky believes that with the Chamber’s support that number will be surpassed. “We’re expecting an even greater turnout,” he said.

Those who register for the 27th Annual CRE Summit by February 12 will save $35. General registration continues through April 1, and costs $260. Students cost $25. The event is Friday, April 8, at the CenturyLink Center. For more information, go to: For a preview of the entire program, go to:

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