BOMA hoping to keep college grads here

August 18, 2009
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For about eight years now, the Building Owners and Managers Association of West Michigan has been sponsoring a scholarship at Grand Valley State University. Now the organization is preparing to expand its relationship with the Seidman College of Business.

BOMA offers a $1,000 scholarship every year to a business college student who has a focus in a field related to commercial real estate.

“It’s typically given to a business student that has an emphasis in real estate or finance with the intent of going into a real estate-related field,” said BOMA President Anne Ficeli, senior property manager at Grubb & Ellis|Paramount Commerce.

Ficeli said the recipient of the BOMA scholarship is chosen by the business school’s faculty. Harry Singh, chairman of the economics department, and Sridhar Sundaram, chairman of the finance department, have been actively involved in the scholarship program.

“They are the two that make the final selections. In the past, they have determined the criteria for the recipient,” she said.

Ficeli said there aren’t specific courses a student has to take to be awarded the scholarship. But students do have to have a certain grade-point average to qualify for consideration, and the business school sets the minimum-required GPA.

“What we’re trying to do right now is increase BOMA’s involvement in this program. We are going to start requiring that an essay be written by the students, and we would get a chance to review those,” said Ficeli.

“The exact requirements haven’t been determined yet, but we are going to step up our involvement. The goal is to create a partnership between BOMA of West Michigan and the Seidman School of Business,” she said.

Ficeli said the ultimate objective of the new partnership is to find a position for business school students with local companies that have a stake in the commercial real estate market. The idea is to keep the young talent here.

“We know we’re losing a lot of our graduates to other states and other areas because of the current job market. So what we are trying to do is link students who are looking for positions with BOMA members or through the BOMA network with internships or permanent positions,” she said.

The BOMA membership covers a broad range of the real estate market. Property owners, managers and investors belong, as do brokers, contractors and vendors of building supplies and services. Developers are also part of BOMA. So there is a wide array of opportunities for students interested in the field.

“Somebody might be interested in real estate investment, real estate development, commercial brokerage — really anything to do with the commercial real estate field,” said Ficeli.

BOMA hopes to get this new partnership going sometime during the upcoming school year, which starts in August. Ficeli said she has discussed BOMA’s expanding relationship with Singh and Sundaram, and more meetings are planned to tie up the loose ends so the effort makes sense for BOMA, the business school and the students.

“Grand Valley is turning out some great students with a lot of knowledge, and we really would like to keep that talent here in West Michigan,” said Ficeli.

BOMA of West Michigan was founded by downtown office building owners and managers in 1968 with the purpose of improving management skills. The local association is one of 95 BOMA organizations in the U.S. and Canada and is affiliated with BOMA International, the voice of the commercial real estate industry in Washington, D.C.

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