NAIOP Greater Toronto Chapter stands tall in North America

NAIOP Greater Toronto was recently honoured as the top large-sized chapter in North America at the organization’s annual awards show.
The GTA chapter, the organization’s third-largest group in North America with 856 members at its peak, was selected based on a number of achievements:
. The group’s “educational programming is outstanding and has attracted the attention of their commercial real estate associations in their area.”
. Greater Toronto “developed a groundbreaking mentorship program, as well as a Developing Leaders “Building Blocks” design competition.”
. “For the past three years, their average membership growth has remained steady at 7.4% and their membership retention is strong at 84%, with 72% of all members participating in chapter activities,” the parent organization said.
Michael Turner, the 2013 President of the NAIOP Greater Toronto Chapter (and Senior Vice-President of Oxford Properties Group in his day job), described the win as “the enthusiasm and culmination of all kinds of work that is just paying off. It wasn’t because this year we did `X’ it is because we have been planting seed for years of so many great initiatives and they are really coming to fruition on so many fronts.”
Big and busy at GTA's NAIOP
NAIOP Greater Toronto is not just big, it’s busy. It’s program committee runs some 25 different events every year ranging from breakfasts, ski days and golf days and networking opportunities for members. The group is at the point in its development that it has added about all the new programs that it can handle so its efforts now are on “maintaining the standard and quality as opposed to adding more,” he said.
As well, the group has established its own annual real estate excellence awards to celebrate lifetime achievements in the commercial real estate industry in fields such as community service or general excellence in the industry. That annual event, which attracts more than 500 people to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, involves dozens of NAIOP volunteers each year.
Another NAIOP Greater Toronto committee is responsible for the growing Sustainability and Education initiatives. Recently that group directed the launch of a new sustainability website.
Group has voice among policymakers
NAIOP’s active advocacy and government relations program, another volunteer-based effort, gives the group a voice among policymakers, said its president. “We recognized that we need to be a voice to policymakers about shaping the success and the future of our region, of the greater Toronto area.”
The Toronto chapter will be adding more programs in future years, particularly in the areas of advocacy and education. “Our members are telling us that they want more educational opportunities presented by us because they think they are high quality,” said Turner.
Last year, for example, the chapter ran a course on investment analysis. One upcoming course, slated to be the first of four, deals with the legal aspects of commercial real estate.
Membership ebbs and flows at NAIOP Greater Toronto, as it does with most other chapters because everyone’s membership expires at year end and then people renew once again over the course of the year. “I think we peaked at 886” members, said Turner of the membership total for 2012. “We continue to be the third-largest chapter and I think we will continue to grow.”
NAIOP develops future leaders
Concerted efforts to seek out new members in the surrounding 905 region has been paying off for the group in terms of membership and its secret weapon to attract new members may be its burgeoning Developing Leaders program.
“We have 303 participants who are under 35 and who are active and engaged in our program which is geared specifically to that cohort,”  he explained. “It will pay off for them, it will pay off for the industry and they will continue to be active for NAIOP for many years to come because they are in the early stages of their career.”
The largest chapters ahead of NAIOP Greater Toronto are Southern California and Massachusetts, Turner said. “It’s OK, we are punching above our weight.”

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