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MBA Students to Compete in Region's First Collegiate Real Estate Challenge

February 19, 2010
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Pictured here (left to right) are Bruce
Retzsch, of RLC Architects, PA, and co-chair
of the South Florida competition; Tom Tworoger,
D.B.A., Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship
with Nova Southeastern University; Charles C. Bohl,
Director of the Real Estate Development and
Urbanism Program at University of Miami; and Eric S
wanson, Executive Vice President of Flagler and
co-chair of the South Florida competition.

Three of the School's MBA students are part of a University of Miami team that will compete in the first annual Collegiate Real Estate Challenge hosted by the South Florida Chapter of NAIOP, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties. First-year MBA Ashton Hamerlin and second-year MBAs Jess Staple and Graham Tedesco will have the chance to interact with local real estate executives and showcase their development expertise in the competition, which is sponsored by Flagler, one of Florida's oldest and largest full service commercial real estate companies.

The UM team, which also includes students from the University's Master in Real Estate Development and Urbanism - a joint program of the Schools of Business, Architecture and Law - will compete against graduate students from Nova Southeastern University. The two teams will create a development strategy for an actual project in South Florida, and then be judged on their proposed project's economic feasibility, market analysis, design viability, and written and oral presentations supporting their submission.

"The NAIOP College Challenge is an opportunity for business and architecture students to integrate and apply the skills they have learned in UM's unique inter-disciplinary programs to an iconic property in the heart of downtown Miami, said Andrea Heuson, a professor of finance who teaches a required class for the School's MBA concentration in real estate. "The competition with students from Nova Southeastern and the ability to present their analysis to more than a hundred local commercial real estate professionals are added benefits for our team members."

The students will present their development plan to an independent panel of judges and NAIOP attendees at an awards ceremony April 8. They will be "graded" on their organization of the presentation, knowledge of the topic, and their persuasiveness and ability to support their project during a question-and-answer session. In addition to a cash prize for the students, the winning team's school will receive a traveling trophy, public recognition and a complimentary one-year membership to NAIOP. 

"We are pleased to introduce the NAIOP Real Estate Collegiate Challenge to our South Florida community," said Eric Rapkin, president of the South Florida Chapter of NAIOP and an attorney with Akerman Senterfitt. "The students will have access to all of the tools needed to be successful, including the same experts that our local developers call upon when working on their own projects. We're really looking forward to seeing what they dream up."

Eric Swanson, EVP Market Officer from Flagler, and Bruce Retzsch, of RLC Architects, PA, are the co-chairs of the South Florida competition.

"This competition is unique because it enables students to gain valuable ‘hands on' experience," said Swanson. "It is essentially a job interview in front of the South Florida real estate community."

The program commenced with a kick-off event on January 22 where the development project and the major sponsor were introduced to the students. Students, alumni, faculty and staff of the School are invited to hear the presentations and enjoy a networking hour with the region's top real estate professions on April 8 starting at 5:30 p.m. The cost is $20 for students, $35 for NAIOP members and $50 for non-members. For more information and to RSVP, eemail collegechallenge@naiopsfl.org.

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