This year's REITweek, June 8-10, will again be held in a virtual format, as last year's was. This year's conference, though, is taking place in a much different environment. While REITweek 2020 took place in an atmosphere of uncertainty about the future, REITweek 2021 is taking place in an atmosphere of optimism.
Our horizon looks brighter this year for a number of reasons. COVID-19 vaccines are being delivered and administered throughout the country at a rate that has exceeded President Biden’s initial projections. Spurred by the vaccines and federal stimulus spending, the economy is rapidly recovering from the pandemic-driven recession, with many economists predicting GDP growth of more than 6% this year—the fastest rate of economic growth in nearly 40 years.
And progress continues on federal legislation to support a comprehensive rebuilding of U.S. infrastructure, which promises to further fuel economic growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans.
REITs have been important contributors to the development of America's infrastructure for many years, and our industry can, and should, be part of this new, massive and much-needed effort to build America back better. We have the tools and proven know-how to undertake this task.
REITs and publicly traded real estate companies have a strong track record of turning brownfields into new, vital neighborhoods, providing housing, healthcare facilities, modern workplaces and all of the other structures needed to deliver essential community services. REITs already provide much of the communications and data transmission network that enables today’s digital economy.
Our industry also is a proven engine of job creation, income and economic growth. U.S. REITs supported 2.6 million jobs in 2019 and generated more than $173 billion of labor income. REITs invested $85 billion in new construction and capital improvements in the communities they serve and paid $21 billion in property taxes.
REITs have accomplished all of this at no cost to taxpayers by channeling private investment capital into the projects that our communities and our country need.
We are well-equipped to participate in building the infrastructure of tomorrow, delivering the housing, transportation systems, clean energy and healthcare facilities that will provide the foundation for our future. We can help create an even stronger and more globally competitive economy that provides benefits to all Americans.
This important subject will be one of the topics discussed at REITweek. I encourage you to be there for this year's virtual event, and I look forward to seeing you in person at REITweek 2022.
James F. Risoleo
2021 Nareit Chair
President, CEO & Director,
Host Hotels & Resorts