by Carole VanSickle Ellis


far from unique in his drive to better the industry by involving more local people with the investing population. “Investing in your community can be incredibly rewarding,” observed Ben Rao, a serial entrepreneur, professional community-builder, Think Realty coach, and founder of Kanas City-based Bridge Space, a co-working facility and business incubator housed in a rehabbed post office. “No real estate investor will ever tell you we don’t want to make money, but when financial benefits and building up your local community align, it can be a magical opportunity to do something meaningful and give back in a sustain- able way,” he explained. Think Realty Magazine spoke with dozens of real estate investors about the concept of community and how it affects their real estate investing. We identified three primary ways real estate investors are driving community and reaping more than just financial returns: NO. 1 EFFECTIVE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT REWARDS INVESTORS WITH HIGHER RETURNS As Rao noted, very few real estate investors are not interested in generating (and improving) their financial returns. Frequently, the search for ways to accom-

foundation of every community. This is likely why real estate investors have such varied and exceptionally im- pactful ideas when it comes to how they feel that they should personally and pro- fessionally develop community in their investments, their local areas, across the industry, and on a national level. “For me, the goal is not just to run a very successful company, produce homes for families who need them, improve neighborhoods, provide quality investments for my clients, and, during all this, make money. The goal is also to give back to my community both by being a positive impact by educating, creating jobs, and, in the future, creat- ing more homeownership,” said Michael Jordan, founder and CEO of De- troit-based Strategy Properties. “We’re working on a project right now where we are converting part of our company’s new warehouse facilities into teaching facilities so that we can teach people how to do really in-demand, real es- tate-related work like HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and carpentry, in addition to providing a venue for investing training. We want to have a lasting, ripple effect in southeastern Michigan,” he added. Jordan admits his training center is a “tall order,” but interestingly, he is

t is not uncommon to hear real estate investors refer to their busi- nesses as “supporting the community.” This statement is highly accurate, given that the U.S. Small Business Administra- tion (SBA) estimates that there are nearly 28 million small businesses in the country and, of that 28 million, roughly 10 percent are classified as real estate-related and employ more than two-thirds of real estate-related employees (more than three million individuals). This estimate should be considered conservative, as it does not even factor in the broad-reaching effects of real estate investing businesses on other sectors in local economies or the esti- mated thousands of investors who invest passively, anonymously through business entities, or who simply invest on a per- sonal level and are not traceable through the public record. The ties between the real estate investing community and investors’ broader communities go much deeper than job creation, consumer confidence and spending, or even restoring blight- ed houses and stagnant communities. Real estate is, at its heart, all about com- munity because the heart of real estate, physical property, is literally the land upon which physical structures sit. Real estate investors work with the literal

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