By Ashley Daniels
Here at Coastal Carolinas Association of REALTORS® (CCAR), we’re into building. Building relationships with our members. Building partnerships with business leaders. And building better communities through our collective real estate prowess to shape a better future for all of us.
It’s just what we’re committed to for the real estate industry. And it’s exactly why we turned heads on a national level to be one of only six REALTOR® Associations awarded the 2017 Community Outreach Award by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) March 19 at an AEI REALTOR® Party Breakfast in Denver, Colo.
“We truly didn’t expect this award. It’s a great honor and humbling. And it’s established us as an important part at the table as a community partner,” says Nate Johnson, VP of Government Affairs at CCAR, “The award has helped open up doors to strong relationships with the community and city planners.”
The national honor was instituted fairly recently in 2015 and awarded biannually to those associations who have partnered with their communities over a two-year period to address a challenge and then commit to making them a better place to live and work. CCAR received the second annual NAR Community Outreach Award because of its successful efforts on three critical community projects:
Savannah’s Playground. CCAR earned a $2,500 Placemaking Grant, which sparked a $15,000 fundraising campaign for this Myrtle Beach enabling playground and a strong partnership with Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes, who spearheaded the construction. The amazing enabling playground, built on land donated by the City of Myrtle Beach, features ADA-approved playground equipment for children of all abilities.
“I’ve been in this industry since 2008 and the NAR has really trained us over the years on how to work together with city planning staff,” says Johnson. “We stood up before anyone to help raise funds for the playground with the mayor of Myrtle Beach and he was so grateful whenever we came to him and presented a check.”
The Former Georgetown Steel Mill. CCAR secured a Level 2 Smart Growth Grant to support a planning analysis performed by the Urban Land Institute for this vacant, but viable, land and legacy in historic Georgetown. The grant helped finance a study and 30-year smart growth plan of this long-standing commercial site by development professionals, which helped community leaders better understand the future potential for the site and recruit a development partner that shares their positive vision.
City of Myrtle Beach Walkability Workshop. Because of a procured Level 3 Smart Growth Grant, CCAR staff and REALTOR® members partnered with city planners, engineers, town council members, the mayor and city administrator in a two-day walkability workshop led by nationally recognized consultants Blue Zones Inc. to improve walking and biking in the city’s main thoroughfares. Plans are currently under way to implement multiple bike lanes throughout the city.
“Our involvement in this walkability project really opened the eyes up to everyone involved when we took the torch from the planning department,” says Johnson. “They understand the logistic of it, of course, but we explained why walkability is so important from a real estate perspective, which has helped to open up relationships with our community and the city.”
The programs and services established by CCAR more than 70 years ago have always been centered on serving as an advocate for community service. As the primary REALTOR® membership association in one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S., with 3,000 members, we believe in giving back to the community.
“I hope that mindset is something that encourages others to do the same sort of thing for their community as well,” says Johnson.
For more info, visit www.ccarsc.org.