As MEREDA closes out another successful year, Drew Sigfridson of CBRE | The Boulos Company is stepping down as president, and I am looking forward to stepping up. On behalf of the board of directors of MEREDA, I would like to thank Drew for an extremely effective two years at the helm. He has been instrumental on all fronts—legislative, conference, and community—and in getting MEREDA on the map.
To give you a little of my background, I am a senior vice president in the Commercial Banking Group at Bangor Savings, and the southern Maine team lead for the Commercial and Business Banking lenders. I have been with the bank for eight years and have over 25 years of banking experience. It is my honor to have served on the Executive Committee as vice president and lead the association’s Membership & Marketing Committee since joining in 2006. I look forward to carrying the baton for MEREDA for the next two years.
Fiscal Year in Review
Since its inception, MEREDA has advocated on behalf of Maine’s development community, addressing issues and challenges related to the real estate market. While we look forward to the beginning of a new fiscal year, it is important that we take a moment to reflect on our accomplishments, and thank MEREDA’s 280+ members for their investment in the association. Our members’ continued support is critical to our ability to maintain and increase our advocacy work, programs, and other services that are vital to development interests in Maine.
MEREDA sponsored two signature events in the past year: the Forecast Conference, which attracted over 700 real estate professionals, and May’s Spring Conference, with more than 250 in attendance. MEREDA annually welcomes both local and national real estate experts to share their insights and market predictions. This spring’s conference featured Alan Hall, entrepreneur and business leader from Utah (which ranked at the top of the Forbes “Best States to Do Business” list). Maine, unfortunately, was ranked at the bottom of that list. Going forward, MEREDA will use insights and discussions from Hall’s presentation to help stimulate dialogue on economic development here at home.
MEREDA continues to work with the Muskie School on its MEREDA Index, which serves as a barometer for development activity in the state’s real estate sector. The index, published biannually, features supporting commentary by experts from key real estate sectors.
MEREDA’s Legislative Committee keeps a watchful eye on dozens of bills, every session. This is a complicated and time-consuming effort, but MEREDA has established itself as a voice of reason in Augusta, and as an organization that can help legislators understand the potential implications, good and bad, of a particular piece of legislation or amendment.
One of MEREDA’s key achievements on the legislative front was working to defeat a proposal to cap the Maine State Historical Tax Credit (HTC). (Given the budget gap projected for State Fiscal Year 2015, a group of legislators and citizens were appointed to find ways to identify savings.) MEREDA worked with HTC advocates and stakeholders to defeat the HTC cap proposal and keep this valuable financial tool in place for economic development. This is a topic that will likely surface again—and it will have MEREDA’s full attention when it does.
The association also established a bowling fundraiser, held at Bayside Bowl, to give back to the community. Proceeds from the event went to the seven colleges in the Maine Community College System. Each school received a $1,000 scholarship check, earmarked for students heading into a real estate-related field. MCCS president, John Fitzsimmons, was a panelist at the MEREDA Spring Conference, where he stressed the importance of an educated workforce to support economic development. MEREDA is pleased to be supporting John and Maine’s community colleges.
Looking ahead it is our goal to capitalize on the recent success of the Spring Conference by facilitating discussions on economic growth and the future of our state. To that end, programming and educational breakfasts will continue to focus on economic development whenever possible.
MEREDA’s leadership, members and volunteers are a vital part of Maine’s economy. It’s an exciting time to be in real estate and to be part of MEREDA’s continued growth and success.