The Florida chapter of COAA (Construction Owners Association of America) ventured further south than ever before with a September 9 workshop on the beautiful University of Miami (UM) campus in Coral Gables. A reception was also held the night before at Bay 13 Brewery & Kitchen, with a strong turnout despite heavy rain.
Bill Martin of UCF (COAA-FL Chapter President) and Allison Nichols with UM welcomed workshop attendees after a networking breakfast, then turned things over to Jessica Brumley, Vice President for Facilities Operations & Planning at UM.
Jessica shared insights on her team and the transformation of the UM campus over the past five years. Not only did the facilities change, but her team overcame challenges and took on many different roles during the pandemic. The UM staff ultimately found success pushing themselves to work harder and smarter. UM’s Director Sustainability, Teddy Lhoutellier, then shared sustainability accomplishments while noting the university’s long term “net zero footprint” goals.
The second ed session featured Dr. Andrea Heuson, Professor of Finance at UM, and Bill Campanella, Executive Director of Design & Construction for UHealth. Andrea shared a surprisingly optimistic outlook on the economy, along with interesting statistics re: inflation and migration to Florida. Bill spoke of supply chain issues and overcoming obstacles in healthcare facilities project development as the organization embarks on an ambitious $1 billion capital improvement plan.
Lunch included remarks from COAA’s Executive Director, Howie Ferguson, who briefly explained the history and mission of the organization. As lunch wound down, Ferguson explained the “COAA Cares” initiative then played a video of COAA volunteer Mimi Flatley (Turner Construction) interviewing the Executive Director of Construction Angels (CA), Kristi Gibbs. Kristi explained the CA mission – supporting the families of construction workers who die in the line of duty – and thanked attendees in advance for their help in assembling “kids care packages,” which CA will use to help comfort the children of workers who perish.
The third and final session featured a panel of Owners – both private and public – discussing best practices for “selecting the right partners.” Great insights (and war stories) came from this diverse group in a discussion moderated by chapter president Bill Martin. Finally, some attendees stayed around to tour either of two ongoing UM projects.
The date & location of the next COAA-FL event has yet to be determined – STAY TUNED – but attendees learned that COAA’s national conference returns to Florida next fall ... November 13-15 in Orlando!