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EagleBank Changemakers: Bailey Real Estate Holdings' Jerome Bailey On Opportunities, Advocacy In CRE

"EagleBank is proud to present the DMV Changemakers Series, sharing the experience, work and perspectives of innovative real estate business leaders across various backgrounds and sectors in the Washington, D.C., market. At EagleBank, we have a singular purpose: to be community builders. Our CRE financing continues to make a positive impact in communities throughout the mid-Atlantic. Our partners are setting the standard for the CRE industry by consistently delivering projects that are aligned with their communities’ needs.” — Susan Riel, president and CEO, EagleBank

Bailey Real Estate Holdings' Jerome Bailey

Jerome Bailey is managing member of Bailey Real Estate Holdings LLC in Washington, D.C. Founded in 2004, Bailey Real Estate Holdings develops residential and commercial real estate and offers affordable housing to low-to-moderate-income residents. Bailey has developed, financed and acquired multifamily properties across D.C.

Bisnow: What's been your proudest accomplishment during the past 18 months?

Bailey: To formally honor the two people who were most influential in my formative collegiate years.

I came to Washington, D.C., as a very ambitious 18-year-old young man entering the Howard University School of Business.  While my ambitions were very high, my financial resources were very low, so I knew early on that I was going to have to work hard to stay there. Not long after I arrived, I was embraced by two faculty members, Harold Gray Sr. and Joan Black, who ensured that my mind, body and soul received the nourishment that most 18-year-olds desperately need. Academically speaking, they provided me with merit-based scholarships, professional development opportunities and guidance. But perhaps more importantly, they provided me a strong sense of community and an on-campus family that I knew I could count on throughout my time at school — and long after.  

So, it brought me a great sense of pride when I established an endowment in their names at Howard University’s School of Business. This endowment ensures that their legacies will live on in perpetuity and it allows me to invest in the future of other purpose-driven students who will need the quality of support that benefited me.

Bisnow: Tell me about the most stressful day you had while leading your firm through the pandemic. How did you get through?

Bailey: As the pandemic created a lot of dissonance for employers and employees, I came into the office one day and my bookkeeper suddenly resigned. While I was concerned for the well-being of that individual, I was caught off guard and had to quickly address the void that their unexpected departure would bring.  

That one act forced me to look internally at the overall future of my business to ensure that I had an organization that was resilient and built on redundancy at our key positions. As a result, we made the decision to invest in more digital resources to integrate into our operations. Doing so ensured the resiliency and redundancy that we desperately needed. This decision also provided us more sustainability to anchor us in the future when disruption occurs.  

Bisnow: How do you and your firm advocate for and advance the interests of underrepresented groups in CRE, whether by gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.? 

Bailey: My advocacy is first and foremost in employment. Since our inception, our firm has employed 10 graduates from five different Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We have hired Howard University grads and individuals from Wards 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C. Further, our chief operating officer, Julita Blair, has successfully led the day-to-day operations for the last 10 years. She models high-quality leadership for the team and is most effective in her role.   

A byproduct of employing these talented individuals is our ability to educate them about the sector while they learn about our core business. Representation is about more than stats — it is about preparing people with diverse perspectives and experiences to make meaningful contributions to the business. By educating our team within their roles, they can add value to the projects and initiatives that they are involved in or responsible for. I feel strongly that these are building blocks for their success within the CRE industry.   

Bisnow: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing commercial real estate now? 

Bailey: The CRE industry was designed to be anchored and predictable. Like many other industries, that was a tried-and-true business model that worked during the height of industrialization. The world was a very different place then.

Now, with the unyielding onslaught of technology and a fast-changing socioeconomic climate, CRE must figure out how to create some level of flexibility. Otherwise, it will always be susceptible to the perils of outside influences.   

Bisnow: Where do you see the biggest opportunity for investment in the CRE world?

Bailey: There is a huge opportunity to invest in people — communities of color and women. As a student at Howard University, I knew that I wanted to create a legacy that my grandchildren’s grandchildren could be proud of. Fortunately, I landed on CRE and I am well on my way to making what started off as a dream a reality. I feel that is a path that many more women and people of color can replicate.  

If you are empowered in CRE, it innately allows you to create a legacy of empowerment. Therefore, the more CRE professionals that are women and people of color that are empowered, the more opportunities of ownership and empowerment they can create in their respective communities. Furthermore, the statistics show that diversity in all sectors yields great ROIs, so it is a win/win for everyone. 

This article was produced in collaboration between EagleBank and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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