SALT LAKE CITY — The inaugural summit of CoreNet Global began with a bang — literally.

A surprise spray of fireworks and rainbow confetti showered hundreds of corporate real estate executives who gathered Monday to celebrate the first-ever CoreNet Global Summit at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The festivities marked the launch of CoreNet Global Corporate Real Estate Network, a new association formed by the merger of the International Development Research Council (IDRC) and the International Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives (NACORE).

"Integration — New Horizons for the Corporate Real Estate Industry." is the theme of the conference. "The creation of CoreNet is a remarkable feat. Just two years ago these two groups were staunch competitors," says Matthew Cullen, general manager of General Motors Corp.'s Enterprise Activities Group, and chairman of Atlanta-based CoreNet Global.

Although the organization was officially created on Jan. 1 with the conversion of NACORE, CoreNet Global was completed May 1 when IDRC also converted its membership.

According to Cullen, who formerly served as chairman of the board for NACORE, the merging of IDRC and NACORE generates enhanced learning resources, including the new four-track education program CoreNet Learning, greater global networking opportunities and a higher association profile with a combined roster of more than 6,000 members.

Besides allowing the members of the new association to get to know one another, highlights of the five-day summit include workshops on real estate technology solutions, roundtable discussions on post-Sept. 11 insurance planning and keynote presentations from such notable speakers as Dan Clark, an author of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

The CoreNet leadership team is encouraging executives to embrace the merger and its inevitable changes. "Our vision is to become a dynamic, fully developed global network of corporate real estate and related professionals who create value for their strategic enterprises," says Sean McCourt, chairman of Ford Motor Land Services Corp.

For former NACORE member Cecilia Mowatt, international president for Chicago-based GVA Worldwide, the key benefit of CoreNet is diversity. "We're all doing the same job on a daily basis," she says. "Having more players in one room makes more sense."

Here’s a glance of the leadership who will be chartering the course for CoreNet Global:

• Sean McCourt, chairman of Ford Motor Land Services Corp., who holds the position of CoreNet chair-elect. McCourt formerly served as president of IDRC.

• Parkash Ahuja, executive vice president of corporate services for Charles Schwab Corp., becomes treasurer for CoreNet. Ahuja formerly was first vice president of the IDRC board of directors.

•Alex Dominguez, senior director of real estate for Chick-fil-A Inc., is the advisor of the learning organization for CoreNet. Dominguez formerly was the vice president of NACORE's restaurant/retail special interest group.