Andris Velkme – Moderating at the Lanida Prop-Tech Conference – Riga, Latvia – September 27-28, 2018

I recently returned from a week long trip to Riga, Latvia and Berlin, Germany that truly left a positive and lasting impression on me. I spent the better part of the last week of September in Riga which felt to me as the epicenter of business and political activity for all of Northern Europe. The number of high level events taking place that week was staggering beginning with the run up to the 13th Parliamentary elections, Pope Francis’ visit to Riga and Aglona, the Lanida PropTech Riga Conference, the global PBLA board meeting (World Federation of Free Latvians) and the Riga Conference where regional and international dignitaries and experts in foreign policy, defense, academics, journalists and business people discuss issues affecting the transatlantic community.

As a global commercial real estate broker & advisor who also serves as the Vice President of National Relations for the Latvian American Chamber of Commerce, the President’s Liaison to Latvia for the National Association of Realtors and the Consulate Liaison to Latvia for the Illinois Realtors my main goal was to assess the general business and investment climate in Latvia, understand the Latvian commercial real estate market as well as Latvia’s place in the PropTech start-up space and foster business relationships that could lead to bi-lateral cooperation.

During my week in Riga I was fortunate to hold productive meetings with an array of business leaders including Eriks Bergmanis, Director of Colliers International Latvia, Santa Rozenkopfa, Managing Director CBRE Baltics, Matiss Kukainis, Partner & Real Estate Attorney at SKA, Auseklis Sarkans, Egils Smilktins and Allans Seviskis board members at Starlex Real Estate, Aldis Riekstins board member from Latio and Irina Sjarki, President of Lanida. I also met with Daniel Rittenhouse, Economic Officer at the United States Embassy, and Latvian Ambassador to the United States Andris Teikmanis. Further, I had the honor of moderating a panel on the Sharing Economy – Co-Working, Co-Living and Incubators for an audience of 300+ at the Lanida PropTech Riga Conference where I also met and established relationships with real estate practitioners and technologists from Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, Finland, Slovenia, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Additionally, I presented a work-shop at Lanida discussing the similarities and differences of the Latvian and American commercial real estate markets.

I have yet to fully unwind from the extremely busy week I spent in Riga last month and will share specific takeaways from my experiences that week in a future newsletter.