As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, it’s clear that the land use industry globalization so prevalent during the past ten years will become even more expansive in the years ahead. In many aspects, real estate is the quintessential local business, but land use practitioners around the world will find themselves increasingly affected by what’s going on in other markets, in other countries, and on other continents.

ULI, in conjunction with Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, provided an early look at what the industry might expect in 2010 and beyond with publication of three editions of Emerging Trends in Real Estate®—the North America edition, released in October (see November/ December 2009, page 28); the Asia edition, released in December (see page 22); and the Europe edition, released in February.

Standout markets in the best position for a postrecession rally were identified in each report—Washington, D.C., and San Francisco in North America; Shanghai and Hong Kong in Asia; and Munich and Hamburg in Europe. Still, despite some signs of economic improvement, the common theme in all three reports is that investment and development activity in commercial real estate remains stymied by weak fundamentals and an overwhelming lack of debt capital, with little change expected in the months ahead. The three sober forecasts reinforce the point that while the worst may be over, our industry is facing additional challenges on the road to recovery.

I believe that ULI can serve you best—not only during this time, but also throughout future industry cycles—by providing timely, comprehensive, relevant industry information that gives you a competitive advantage. Emerging Trends is just one example of how we do this.

While ULI has evolved over the years to stay ahead of member needs, one benefit remains tried and true, and that is the institute’s ability to serve as a clearinghouse of information, a network of contacts, and— perhaps most important—a forum for the exchange of ideas.

This aspect of our organization has a long history and has served our members well through many changes in the industry. In fact, more than 60 years ago, ULI founding member J.C. Nichols advised then-new member Roy Drachman to “remain in the ULI as long as you are in the real estate business. Whatever you learn as a result, however you benefit from it, don’t keep it to yourself. Pass it on.”

This is a good example of ULI’s longstanding role as a facilitator of the sharing of knowledge available nowhere else. The high value placed on information from ULI is as much about who provides the content as the quality of the content itself. Through products such as Emerging Trends, ULI can tap the extraordinary intellectual capital of its members, reaching a vast cross-section of expertise that represents all land use disciplines in diverse markets around the globe. This is what sets ULI’s program of work apart from that of any single company, think tank, or other membership organization.

We are expanding our knowledge-sharing capability through the new Urban Land online magazine, set to debut this spring. Through this new communications tool, we are creating more opportunities to showcase member expertise, to tailor our work to meet your needs, and to provide you with perspectives available only from an organization as far reaching as ULI.

The online edition will complement the bimonthly print editions of Urban Land, providing the same high-caliber coverage of topical land use issues. However, it will have a much more time-sensitive focus, including features such as the ULI Real Estate Business Barometer, a highly accessible monthly collection of industry statistics and an analysis of what the data mean for land use professionals.

This stepped-up emphasis on communications is all part of a broader effort to make ULI more valuable to you. We want to help you change the course of trends, not just react to them.

We’re raising the bar for ULI’s program of work so that it helps you not just adapt to change, but also improve your outcomes. We are aiming to equip you with the tools you need to be trend makers, setting the stage for better land use decision making in places small and large, public and private, national and international.