ACRE returns to Marquette


Marquette stock photo

After a four-year hiatus, Associates in Commercial Real Estate, or ACRE, will return to Marquette.

The program offers a series of courses in property management, construction management and real estate development skills, geared toward preparing participants for future employment in those fields. But to Melissa Goins, a graduate of the program who received her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Marquette and founded the Maures Development Group, ACRE is about more than just the classes it offers.

“The biggest gift beyond curriculum is that real estate is based on who you know and ACRE creates a bridge and a platform for people without opportunities to be exposed to the real estate world,” Goins said.

Classes are set to meet once a week at Marquette, the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee beginning on Sept. 23, with the program slated to run for 26 weeks. The class will be composed of 20 students selected from an application process who are all looking to begin a career in real estate. However, for students, simply attending class is not enough to guarantee success in the program and in their future.

“You get out what you put in,” Goins said. “ACRE is not a magic bullet and it does not guarantee success. The responsibility is in the hands of the participants to nurture those connections created by the program.”

According to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a nonprofit partner of ACRE, the overarching goal of ACRE is to “recruit and train people of color in the city of Milwaukee for professional careers in the commercial real estate industry.” ACRE connects students to professionals in the field which leads to job offers down the road and establishes minorities in the real estate industry.

“The large benefit is bringing diversity to a profession that is in need of diversity,” said Mark Eppli, interim dean of the College of Business Administration and creator of ACRE, in an email.

The recession in 2010 forced the program’s temporary closing after it boasted 146 graduates over a six-year span. The achievements of its graduates spearhead its return this year.

“Program graduates who were not in the business have since developed hundreds of apartments,” Eppli said. “Additionally, ACRE graduates are commercial real estate loan officers, work for the Department of City Development in Milwaukee and have established a construction contracting company, among others.”

Funding from Barry Mandel, a successful real estate tycoon, and the Opus Group are also behind the program’s reemergence, as are partnerships with LISC Milwaukee, the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

“When we originally established the program, I was delighted with the community and business outpouring of support for ACRE,” Eppli said. “That support was later revealed in financial support, site visit support, hiring support, and others.”