Real estate entrepreneurs and leaders explored modern technology and industry-changing innovations at the 10th Annual Real Estate Impact Conference, held for the first time on the Coral Campus Gables at the University of Miami.

Miami’s pull as a nexus for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, tech companies and new industry innovations — all spurred by the pandemic — served as the foundation for the 10th Annual Real Estate Impact Conference , this year on the theme “The Miami Movement: Building the Global, Entrepreneurial, Tech-Friendly City.”

Co-hosted by the University of Miami School of Architecture, the Patti and Allan Herbert Business School and the School of Law, the annual conference was held Friday at the Donna E. Shalala Student Center.

Jeffrey L. Duerk, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost of the university, highlighted the rapid adaptations of businesses, municipalities and universities to the challenges uncovered and exacerbated by the pandemic.

“The pandemic has fueled a wave of thinking and innovation across all sectors of the real estate industry,” Duerk said. “We are happy not only to host the conference today, but also to be part of this revolution.”

Laurie Silvers, chair of the university’s board of trustees and law school alumnus, moderated a conversation with Sheila Johnson, CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts and the only black woman to own three professional sports franchises, for the opening conversation.

Silvers, co-founder of the SyFy network and co-CEO of, encouraged Johnson to share her entrepreneurial instincts and strategies for increasing diversity through her many projects and philanthropic efforts.

Johnson, who entered the hospitality industry after her career as a co-founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), spoke of the challenges she faced building Salamander, a resort destination in Middleburg, Va. 45 miles from Washington, DC.

“With virtually no local economy, we built from scratch, even had to build a new sewage treatment plant,” Johnson said. She added that despite the poverty, the lack of opportunities in the city and the fact that she was creating jobs, she had received hate mail and death threats.

She started by buying an armory displaying a Confederate flag, then converted it into a market. Then, in addition to building the 340-acre complex, he went on to build a local performing arts center. Today, Middleburg is among the wealthiest communities in the state, she pointed out.

Johnson noted that one of his most satisfying philanthropic endeavors was being able to fund the education of 50 students, covering tuition and health care. Of this group, one person is now a clerk to a US Supreme Court justice, three are doctors, four are lawyers, and others are successful in multiple ways.

“They had the ability, and I gave them the opportunity,” Johnson said. “You do it here at the University too. You don’t just write a check for education; you must also provide the safety net. When you invest in people, you invest in the world.

Mark Troen, a lecturer in the University’s Real Estate Development + Urban Planning master’s program, and students have released key findings from the Real Estate Research Initiative 2022 survey. With this year’s focus on the post-pandemic era, the survey assessed the impact of COVID-19 on South Florida real estate.

During an afternoon session, Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of Icon, a leading developer of construction 3D printing technologies based in Austin, Texas, highlighted the freedom of design offered by modern technology and its potential to solve the global housing shortage.

“We have to build a world in tune with the things we value,” Ballard said. “A billion homes is our opportunity, and we can do it in this lifetime. As builders, we help create the world. What a great honor and privilege this is.

In the closing remarks, City of Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez and Sandeep Mathrani, Chief Executive Officer of WeWork, described what the city has been doing, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, to boost the “ Miami Movement” and strengthen its appeal. as a technology center.

For the students in attendance, the panelists offered career advice.

“Find something you enjoy doing and know that there are different stages in your life – early, middle and late,” Mathrani says. “No need to focus early in life on money. Seek experience and don’t be afraid to pivot. In midlife you can get married and have children, this is the time to increase your income Later in life, it’s time to give back.

Suarez noted that from a job perspective, there is a difference between money and value. “A job that pays less, like working in government or for a mission-driven company, can create more value in your life,” he said.

He encouraged students to develop technical and soft skills and to know that companies need both engineers and talented people in marketing, sales and communication.

“And embrace the disruption,” Suarez urged the students. “We live in a disruptive world – and it will grow continuously and exponentially.”