Chairman’s Message at the 2012 Fall Meeting

The following is a transcript of ULI Foundation Chairman Jim Curtis’s remarks at the 2012 Fall Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

ULI’s impact is real; ULI’s impact is far reaching; and ULI’s impact is transforming millions of lives around the world.

As ULI members, every single one of us has a unique ability—working individually and collectively as an organization—to make a tangible, lasting difference in people’s day-to-day lives.

By choosing to be part of ULI, we embrace a cause that is noble, transformative, and profound. And that cause is this: promoting responsible land use to help people achieve a higher quality of life and greater economic productivity.

A simple concept with profound implications.

Several years ago, I heard Harry Frampton say that ULI is about people, not buildings. And that statement struck me as a particularly powerful motto for ULI. It’s one that continues to guide the work of the Institute and the support provided by the ULI Foundation.

The endowment of the Foundation is currently about $42 million. The annual fund will likely reach $1.5 million this year. And we’re on track with a planned giving program that totals $10 million.

These numbers are impressive. But they only tell part of the story. ULI’s human capital contribution is the rest of the story. Extraordinary volunteerism and a powerful tradition of “giving back”—that’s what makes the Foundation’s support go much farther.

It’s what makes ULI’s impact so strong, so lasting, and so profound. You need look no further than this very convention center to see it.

In the 1980s, Denver’s downtown was struggling, as were the downtowns in most U.S. cities. They weren’t places you wanted to visit for a meal, much less for major conferences or business meetings. But in 1987, a ULI advisory panel recommended that a convention center be built right here, instead of at the edge of the city.

It was a highly controversial recommendation. In fact, the paper said that ULI “stunned” the city by picking this site. But the panelists felt a convention center in this spot would breathe new life into downtown Denver.

Nobody else but ULI would have made that call. Many were skeptical. But, ultimately the city trusted ULI, and today, 16th Street is thriving. Denver is a different city. A better city.

People in Denver have a better life—and those who visit have a better experience—as a result of that bold ULI recommendation.

For decades, ULI has volunteered this unique mix of expertise and objectivity to hundreds of cities around the world. 600 panels. 318,000 hours of volunteer work. That’s nearly 75 million dollars’ worth of time given to communities. 75 million dollars of expertise that has transformed hundreds of cities and advanced ULI’s mission.

In these tumultuous times, more cities are turning to ULI advisory panels for help. Just this past year, we’ve gone to Hong Kong and Moscow, and to U.S. cities from Tampa to Los Angeles. And the Foundation is stretching ULI’s ability to offer this service. With the Foundation’s help, ULI can do for cities worldwide what we did right here in Denver.

Making cities better for people. That is your ULI—your ULI Foundation—at work.

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