Real estate alliance produces first women’s networking event


A group of women who are part of the Commercial Alliance of Realtors of West Michigan pose for a shot together: Executive Director Shari Veldman, left, board members Hillary Taatjes Woznick, Cathy Bottema and Mary Anne Wisinski Rosely. Courtesy CARWM

A local alliance is producing an event next week to help expose more women to the predominantly male commercial real estate industry.

The Commercial Alliance of Realtors of West Michigan, or CARWM, will host, along with the law firm Rhoades McKee, its first women’s networking event on Nov. 11, from 4:30-6 p.m., in Grand Rapids at Rhoades McKee's office, at 55 Campau Ave. NW.

The alliance expects about 50-60 people to attend the free event.

Women are strongly encouraged to attend the event, which is also open to men, said Shari Veldman, executive director, CARWM.

Can be "intimidating"

“The whole premise behind it is that commercial real estate can be sort of an intimidating profession to get into,” Veldman said. “If we created a group like this, it might serve as a way to connect for people who want to get into the industry, or even just affiliates who want to work with commercial realtors.

“It’s a great opportunity for women interested in the commercial real estate industry, whether it’s the brokerage side or other aspects to it, and it’s for anyone who’s interested in getting together and networking.”

Veldman said the event will hopefully educate more women about the opportunities available in the commercial real estate industry.

“It’s an industry where the large majority are men,” Veldman said. “Within our membership, less than 10 percent of the practitioners with a license to sell and lease are women. A good number of women are property managers . . . but it hasn’t carried over to commercial.

“I think it can be a challenging profession to get started in, although I do think our companies do a great job of mentoring new agents. I don’t know if it’s a profession that many women consider.”

People can register and RSVP for the event by emailing Veldman at shariv at carwm dot com.

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