Project REAP: An Invitation to a Talent Pipeline for the EB-5 Community

03.07.24 | Diversity, Education

Project REAP: An Invitation to a Talent Pipeline for the EB-5 Community

The EB-5 capital community has built an impressive record of development—much of it in urban, multiethnic communities designated as TEAs. Project REAP, the nation’s largest national diversity & inclusion initiative serving the commercial real estate industry (CRE), welcomes opportunities to connect with the EB-5 regional center community and professionals who are shaping this unique sector of alternative finance.

Historically, the commercial real estate industry — particularly the development sector — has been a relatively insular and exclusive community. Often it has been dominated by family-owned entities and entrepreneurs. Additionally, development as a profession has not been a field that many college students have been exposed to. And if they did develop interest in pursuing opportunity in CRE development, they often faced a firewall that precluded their entry because of the lack of relevant experience and relationships. That was the dilemma that I faced decades ago when I graduated from The Wharton School — even though I was armed with a degree in real estate and finance. There was no Project REAP back then to pave a path for me. But, nonetheless, I was fortunate enough to land a post with a major commercial real estate developer.

So, Project REAP was launched some 25 years ago to change the fact that minorities only constituted about 1% of the professional positions in the CRE sector. By collaborating with the commercial real estate leadership of major retailers, financial institutions, brokerage firms and property owners, REAP has bolstered the relationship capital of its fellows. It has introduced them to seasoned industry dealmakers. And, in the process, those CRE organizations have broadened their talent pool through access to REAP’s job board and sponsored activities. REAP now boasts alums who have held executive-level real estate development and investment positions at firms such as Nike, Microsoft, Nuveen, and Starbucks. And some have ventured into development and formed their own development ventures.

Thus, Project REAP has been introducing underrepresented BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and Professionals of Color) talent to diverse opportunities in the CRE sector. As Project REAP moves forward into its next 25 years, its past and future alumni should be informed and exposed to the EB-5 community. Just as REAP alum have been introduced to leaders in the New Markets Tax Credit, LIHTC and community development finance sectors, they should also be encouraged to understand the role of America’s immigrant investment program. Immigrant investors, too, are an important demographic adding to America’s great diversity. Project REAP even has immigrant talent within its own ranks.

Therefore, as Acting Executive Director of Project REAP, I welcome the opportunity to connect with EB-5 professionals who might be interested in sharing their thought leadership with Project REAP’s talent pipeline — or possibly hiring REAP talent. REAP hosts a professional development academy covering the basics of the commercial real estate profession. This continuing education program consists of a 7- to 10-week virtual and in-person curriculum and networking experience. It is designed for professionals interested in transitioning into or advancing their knowledge of the commercial real estate sector. So, given REAP’s past focus on conventional fields of real estate finance, the EB-5 program is a natural frontier for future dealmakers to explore.

To learn more about Project REAP, contact Human capital may be nearly as important to the future of the EB-5 sector as immigrant investor capital. And as a former chief investment officer for an urban investment fund, I learned that capital only follows projects that are administered by competent sponsors. For historically underrepresented communities of talent, Project REAP has been cultivating their competency to match the demands of the real estate markets.

– G. Lamont Blackstone is an award-winning commercial real estate consultant & Acting Executive Director of the nonprofit initiative, Project REAP (

G. Lamont Blackstone, CRX
Acting Executive Director & Past Chair

Project REAP – The Real Estate Associate Program
11 West 42nd St., 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10036
(914) 656-6378 (mobile)

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