Port Short: ULI REAL Program

I’m feeling like I’m ready to go and make things happen because there is so much information, good information, that I learned in the class. And I want to take as much as I can from this class out and do something with it.” – Jilson Daniels, Vice President of Economic Equity, The Port

Yeah, that’s me – Jilson Daniels. I'm totally jazzed and into changing our region. I'm uber pumped. I just graduated from ULI Cincinnati’s Real Estate Accelerator Lab or REAL. But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s time travel back nine months to when I started the program.

First, you’re probably wondering ‘what is the REAL Program?’

The REAL Program is special because it was created by the local professionals, so they know what our region needs as far as commercial development goes. They created the actual curriculum, and they teach it. So, you get to hear from the folks that you see their name in lights and on the side of buildings - they're the ones that are there teaching the programs. They get that one-on-one information that they can carry with them." - Debbie Dent, Director, ULI Cincinnati

I spent one full day a month with a diverse cohort, from across a broad spectrum of industries, all bringing their own inspiring goals and visions.

I’m excited not only for what I want to see happen but for what I’ve heard from my colleagues and the plans and the visions that they have. And I just want to be in a position to help support the realization of many of those plans that not only I have, but that they have.” – Robert Killins, Jr., Director - Special Initiatives, Greater Cincinnati Foundation

Over the course of the REAL program, we learned the building blocks of real estate development, connected with mentors and past REAL graduates alike, and forged connections in the industry. We also used our shared expertise and newly gained resources to tackle “real” – pun intended - development challenges in our community.

A lot of our graduates have gone on to be employed by the different companies here in Cincinnati and Greater Cincinnati. It gives them a chance to start their own company if they've been wondering what that's going to look like. And then there's a lot of partnering - so some of the folks that have graduated actually partner with the companies they have met in class and do projects together." - Debbie Dent, Director, ULI Cincinnati

For me to see all of the finished projects, it was clear how much we had grown as a group and how much we each take away from this experience individually.

And in conversations with my fellow graduates, one consistent theme or takeaway always seemed to come up:  - the connections we now have with so many people from so many backgrounds, which will be invaluable to everyone moving forward.

It’s been really nice how the sponsors, the mentors, as well as the board of directors have come in, have interacted with us, have presented for us, and have really made themselves available.” – Candace Huff, Vice President, KeyBank

Part of my journey had so much to do with my classmates and our shared experiences. And I’m so excited to see what this new generation of real estate development leaders have already accomplished and will continue to accomplish for a greater Cincinnati region.

When I started this program, I had no idea what I was going to get out of it. I had never done anything in real estate, so I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And as a result of the program, going through month to month, it kind of evolved, and I curated a position, and that was to create a Black/woman-owned real estate development company.” Aaliyah Lovett, Entrepreneur, Black on Purpose

So, what is my advice for a potential REAL candidate?

I would tell them, if you really want to understand the development process as a whole, this is the class for you. Because it gives you a very broad, and in some cases, an in-depth understanding of all the different aspects of real estate development.” – Jilson Daniels, Vice President of Economic Equity, The Port

So, now I ask, what is your vision, and how could REAL help you achieve it?

The Port has been a proud partner and sponsor of the ULI Real Estate Accelerator Lab (REAL) since its inception in 2019.