For Robert Davis, a career path that led to real estate seemed inevitable. The Atlanta native jokes that “housing is in my DNA,” noting that his mother held leadership positions with various metro Atlanta housing authorities.
Shortly after graduating from Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he initially worked on acquiring real estate property for government and utility companies until he learned of the Project REAP program.
Project REAP (Real Estate Associate Program), the nation’s leading diversity initiative for the commercial real estate industry, is launching its ninth program in Atlanta this fall. Project REAP has graduated more 1,000 students from many of the nation’s leading urban centers.
Those interested in participating need to demonstrate an interest in commercial real estate via the application and interview process.
Classes are taught by senior-level commercial real estate industry experts Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-9 p.m. The program covers varied topics in commercial real estate and multiple property types. Real estate experience is not needed.
“We’re seeking self-starters from multiple disciplines with a zeal to learn and a will to succeed. Some may switch to CRE, others will use the increased knowledge to bolster their careers,” explained REAP Associate Program Director Osayamen Bartholomew.
The application period opened July 6 and closes next Friday, Aug. 3. Tuition is $750.00. Classes begin in mid-September.
Mike Bush founded REAP in Washington, D.C. in 1998. In 2002, he partnered with the late Charlie Ackerman, a prominent Atlanta real estate developer and fellow member of the American Jewish Committee, assembled a group of sponsors and launched REAP’s first program in Atlanta.
Subsequent programs took place in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2016, and 2017. To date, nearly 300 students have graduated from REAP Atlanta.
The program has worked with such local sponsors and supporters as: Integral Group, GAP, WalMart Realty, Cushman & Wakefield, T. Dallas Smith & Company, Sperry Van Ness, Duke Realty, Inc., Smith Real Estate Services, APD Solutions, CBRE, Columbia Ventures, Simon Property Group.
Completing the REAP program in 2007 gave Davis extensive exposure to retail real estate, and landed him a paid internship at Walmart, which translated into a full-time job as a realty appraisal manager in under a year.
In 2011, Davis was promoted to senior real estate manager at Walmart and two years later he joined Lowe’s Home Improvement as real estate manager and relocated to Mooresville, N.C.
Davis is currently responsible for property management of 100+ stores in the Midwest and new store development in the Southeast.
“REAP exposed me to all aspects of CRE and showed me the power of networking,” Davis said. “REAP has had a major impact on increasing diversity and inclusion. Whenever I meet multicultural persons in CRE across the U.S., about half of the time, they are REAP alumni or affiliated with the program.”
Davis also said that REAP has given him a platform and a program to introduce diversity and inclusion into his workplace and his network.
Monica Scott, a REAP 2017 alum and CRE realtor with Berkshire Hathaway, was renovating brownstones in Brooklyn and Harlem in the early 2000s when her husband’s job transfer relocated her to Atlanta.
She acquired a real estate license, conducted some residential sales and became drawn to the possibilities of CRE while working on a hotel sale.
“It was much more involved, more in-depth, more complex – and there was community involvement too,” Scott said.
Scott said she found the program immensely informative and is grateful both for the knowledge gained and the strong support system that endures.
She also credits REAP with helping her to successfully close a 25,000 square foot warehouse lease in South Fulton with Aviation Compliance Consulting Agency.
The roster of distinguished REAP Atlanta alumni is long and impressive. Bush, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, noted that REAP Atlanta alumni include Lynn Smith, director of real estate and commercial development, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport; Brian Hooker, executive director, Fort Mac LRA; and Patricia Luster, director of real estate, GAP.
Bush said, “REAP introduces talent to opportunity.”