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Opportunity Zones Offer Investors Tax-Friendly Deferral Options in Designated Project Areas

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A real estate-friendly byproduct of the Tax Cuts and Job Act, opportunity zones offer investors the chance to diversify their commercial portfolio with a slice of active development in and around St. Louis.

Opportunity zones are low-income U.S. Census tracts nominated by municipalities, approved by the governor and ratified by the U.S. Treasury Dept. and the IRS as a means of injecting needed capital into local shovel-ready developments nationwide. In Missouri, 161 such zones have been designated, 41 of them in St. Louis.

Lewis Rice attorneys David Lemkemeier and Ryan Furtick, among others, are members of a new practice group at the law firm’s St. Louis headquarters that’s specific to opportunity zone investment.

“We’re seeing interest from commercial real estate developers and others who are educated in commercial real estate investing,” said Lemkemeier, a partner at the firm. “Opportunity zones offer investors a chance to inject capital into low-income communities through qualified building projects. The timing for this is ideal because the commercial real estate market is a strong one to begin with,” he added.

St. Louis’ opportunity zones exist in downtown, midtown, north St. Louis City and elsewhere. Furtick said the primary tax benefit of opportunity funds – the name for the investment vehicles within designated opportunity zones – is the temporary deferral of any capital gain invested in an opportunity fund.

“When you invest your capital gain in one of these funds, you can defer the tax until the earlier of two scenarios: 1) When you sell your investment or 2) December 31, 2026,” Furtick said. “In addition to temporarily deferring your capital gain, you can permanently exclude part of the gain that you rolled over and invested in the fund depending upon your holding period. If you hold your investment for 5 years, you can permanently exclude 10 percent. If you hold it for 7 years, you can realize an additional 5 percent permanent exclusion.”

There’s another potential investor benefit, the attorneys attest: If the opportunity fund investor holds his interest in the fund for 10 years, all future appreciation – from day one until that investor sells his interest – remains tax free.

“It has to be a good (real estate) investment to begin with,” said Lemkemeier. “And in order to obtain the maximum tax benefit, it needs to be a development or construction project that is going to be around for 10 years. That requires patient capital and may limit the number of attractive projects within these zones,” he added, noting that if an investor sells its interest in an opportunity fund within the 10-year period, it doesn’t negate the opportunity zone tax advantage, but the investor is required to reinvest the dollars in another opportunity fund within 180 days.

This relatively new real estate investment option offers more flexibility than the long-time 1031 like-kind exchange, which is limited only to real property investment, said Furtick. “With like-kind exchanges, you have to take all of your sales proceeds from the sale of real property and invest them in new real property within 180 days,” he said. “Now your (opportunity fund) investments can also come from the sale of stock, the sale of a business or anything else that qualifies as capital gain.”

Lemkemeier said the opportunity fund provides another layer of the capital stack for investors. “The opportunity zone program has the potential to make major construction projects and major real estate developments happen that might not otherwise. That’s exciting.”

NCCET Presents Workforce Program Award to Ranken Technical College

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The National Council for Continuing Education & Training (NCCET), an organization for leaders in workforce, community, and economic development, has honored Ranken Technical College with its Exemplary Program Award.

Ranken was chosen as a result of its Workforce Education Alliance Program in Perryville, Mo.

In 2017, industry leaders from the Perryville area met with Ranken to propose a partnership in which Ranken would develop and operate a satellite site locally and assist in developing a skilled trained workforce for the region. By 2018, with the direct support of local industries and local governmental agencies, Ranken opened a full-service campus in Perryville that provided hands-on instruction in areas such as welding, robotics, process control, industrial technologies information technology, diesel technology and commercial driver’s license (CDL).

As an integral part of the course offerings at the site, an Industrial Engineering Technology (IET) Apprenticeship program was specifically tailored to local industry needs. The foundation of the instruction is the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) Industrial Technology Maintenance (ITM) curricula. Embedded within an Associate’s Degree program, students receive instruction in eight core areas, including mechanical and electrical systems, welding, hydraulics and piping; students are then offered a variety of advanced topics of instructions depending upon interest or needs of the sponsoring industry (e.g. pneumatics, process control). After four weeks of training, the students transition to a paid internship, giving them a deeper understanding through real-world experience. The IET program has been officially registered by the U.S. Department of Labor as an apprenticeship. At the conclusion of a two-year (five semester) period, these continuing education students earn an associate’s degree (with over 90 credit hours) and a minimum of eight recognized industry certifications.

“The Workforce Education Alliance Program in Perryville was established at the behest of private employers and the community in response to a critical talent shortage,” said Ranken President Stan Shoun. “The Program has proven to be of high value to the manufacturing sector regionally, and Ranken believes it can be adapted by any college with a specific workforce need and a robust partnership.”

Ranken Technical College is a private, non-profit, degree-granting institution of higher learning whose primary mission is to provide the comprehensive education and training necessary to prepare students for employment and advancement in a variety of technical fields. For more information, visit

Photo Above: Ranken IET Instructor Mark Malcinski (on the left) receives the NCCET award from NCCET President-Elect Howard Drake (on the right).

OSHA Renews Strategic Electrical Partnership to Heighten High-Voltage Lineworker Safety

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The St. Louis and Missouri Valley Chapters of NECA – the National Electrical Contractors Association – applaud OSHA’s decision to renew a national partnership with industry stakeholders to support best practices to underscore safety for electrical workers who build and repair high-voltage electrical lines.

On Oct. 30, OSHA officially renewed the Electrical Transmission & Distribution Partnership, which began in 2004 with a few stakeholder organizations and today includes 17 major electrical industry players from the private sector. It is the only national partnership between employers and OSHA, according to the agency.

Mitch Marquardt, a Sachs Electric retiree and industry consultant who represents NECA in the partnership, says that before the consortium launched 14 years ago, OSHA conducted a survey of lineman from across the U.S. to identify areas where updated training was most needed. OSHA also held live discussions with lineman from coast to coast, ascertaining specific areas of their jobs where they found themselves most at risk for serious injury or fatality.

“Over the years, the partnership and OSHA have worked in tandem to tweak best practices and stay current with the best training possible,” Marquardt said. “And in partnership with OSHA, we’ve developed additional lineman safety training courses such as the 10-hour and 20-hour programs on safety in line construction. The 20-hour includes emphasis on supervisory and leadership skills.”

The partnership has also developed an app that lineman can easily access from their smartphones, one that outlines a procedural safety checklist and reminders for those working to restore electrical power in emergency and non-emergency scenarios.

“One of the practical resources the app provided during Hurricane Michael in October were safety-related push notices,” Marquardt said.

Asplundh Tree Expert LLC Chairman and CEO Scott Asplundh, who is serving as chairman of the partnership’s executive committee, says the entity has made great strides in improving safety in the industry. “The renewal of this partnership for another five years is an opportunity to continue making improvements to our practices to keep people safe,” he said. “This collaboration among industry stakeholders is making a real impact for lineworkers across the country. Due to the best practices and training materials developed under our agreement, millions of workers have benefitted.”

In addition to OSHA, NECA and Asplundh Tree Expert, members of the ET&D Partnership include: Aldridge Electric, Davis H. Elliot Co., Edison Electric Institute, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, The Goldfield Corp., Henkels & McCoy Group, MasTec, MDU Construction Services Group, Michels Corp., MYR Group, PLH Group, Pike Electric and Quanta Services. For more information about the partnership, visit

Four St. Louis NECA Electrical Contractors Ranked Among Top Specialty Contractors by Engineering News Record (ENR)

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The national construction industry trade publication, Engineering News Record (ENR), has ranked four St. Louis National Electrical Contractor Association (NECA) contractor members among it “Top 600 Specialty Contractors.”  The four contractors – all members of the Electrical Connection – are Sachs Electric Co.Guarantee Electrical Co.PayneCrest Electric, Inc. and Aschinger Electric Co. Inc.  The ranking can be found in the Oct. 22, 2018 cover story, “The Top-600 Specialty Contractors”

In its annual listing of the top specialty contractors nationally, ENR ranked Sachs 101st, Guarantee ranked 173rd, PayneCrest ranked 234th and Aschinger ranked 436th.   Meanwhile, Bell Electrical Contractors, Inc. is part of the MDU Construction Services Group, Inc. which ranked 11th in the national rankings.  All five ranked in the top 10 among St. Louis’ largest electrical contractors in the St. Louis Business Journal’s annual ranking last spring.  A total of 18 of the 22 contractors listed in the Business Journal rankings were St. Louis NECA contractors.

The ENR cover story article accompanying the ranking noted a robust construction market.   “As a group, the Top 600 generated revenue of $124.04 billion in 2017, up 10% over the $112.72 billion in 2016, and a 23.5% hike from $100.43 billion the year before. Top 600 revenue now has risen for seven straight years.”

“For St. Louis NECA contractors, service comes first as part of a disciplined approach to growth,” said Doug Martin, executive vice president, St. Louis NECA.  “Some have strengthened their practice through merger and financial partnerships while others are broadening services and strengthening proficiencies through additions to engineering and project management staff.”

This year, Aschinger merged with St. Louis NECA contractor Briner Electric Co.  Both companies are more 100 years old and will operate under the Aschinger name.  Meanwhile, in 2017, Sachs Electric entered into a partnership with funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. (“Oaktree”) to provide capital and strategic resources to support Sachs’s growth.

“Our joint annual training investment of $3 million with our NECA partners ensures our contractors always have the most skilled and safe workforce for all projects,”  said Frank Jacobs, business manager International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1. “That includes continuing education and an education partnership with St. Louis Community College to offer college degrees.”

This dedication to keeping pace with the growing complexities of electrical and communication installations has made the IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection partnership an important resource for economic and workforce development in Missouri.  The Electrical Connection serves on the Missouri Governor’s Workforce Development Task Force, the “Talent for Tomorrow” program and the “Best in the Midwest” economic development strategic planning initiative.

“Our NECA contractors and the skilled IBEW workforce they employ are a great asset to Missouri’s future business development because all that is changing with technology,” noted Jim Curran, executive vice president, Electrical Connection. “We are on the forefront of smart technology and infrastructure that is creating greater value in the built environment.  That includes building automation, smart manufacturing, smart roads, smart cities and other advanced electrical and communications infrastructure powering our future.”

St. Louis NECA contractors partner with IBEW Local 1 to form the Electrical Connection, providing safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  For more information, visit


Talking Transit Event Set for Nov. 16 to Highlight Transit Security Best Practices

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Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT), the St. Louis Regional Chamber and East-West Gateway Council of Governments are inviting area residents to take part in a special “Talking Transit” event that will highlight transit security best practices from systems in other major metropolitan cities. Representatives of these public transit systems will share key insights on their respective security programs and weigh in on the issues surrounding St. Louis’ public transit system. The event is being held on Friday, Nov. 16, at 8:30 a.m. at the St. Louis Regional Chamber Collaboration Center, located at One Metropolitan Square, Ste. 1300, in downtown St. Louis, Mo., which is accessible via the MetroLink or MetroBus.

Lurae Stuart, project manager of WSP USA, Inc., which is leading the MetroLink Security Assessment, willprovide a brief overview of the peer review process of the assessment set to wrap up in December. Panelists from TriMet in Portland, Ore.; SacRT in Sacramento, Calif.; Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., and WMATA in Washington, D.C. will then share best practices as it relates to the security of their public transit systems and offer insight on how these successes might be able to be emulated on the St. Louis MetroLink system.

“Transit safety and security remains a key priority for the region,” said Kim Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit. “We are looking forward to this discussion and the opportunity to learn more about the successes of other systems in hopes of finding workable solutions to take into consideration in our community.”

Registration for the Talking Transit event can be completed online at or by arriving early to the event. The cost is free for CMT members and $10 for non-members. For non-members that would like to attend but have personal financial constraints, CMT offers a limited number of scholarships for each of the Talking Transit events. To learn more about the event, or for more information on Citizens for Modern Transit and its efforts to further transit development in the St. Louis region, call (314) 231-7272, find the organization on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @cmt_stl.

Citizens for Modern Transit is a nonprofit, member supported organization that leads efforts for an integrated, affordable, and convenient public transportation system with light rail expansion as the critical component that will drive economic growth to improve quality of life in the St. Louis region.

Elsperman to Serve as 2019 President of AGC of America

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As Tarlton Corp. celebrates its Founders Day, the company looks forward to another year of industry service and leadership: Dirk Elsperman, Tarlton executive vice president and chief operating officer, will be sworn in as president of Associated General Contractors of America in April 2019. When he takes office, Elsperman will become one of only four AGC principals from the bi-state area to lead the national organization.

The announcement coincides with an important milestone in Tarlton’s history – Founders Day, a day of companywide celebration each fall that marks the Oct. 2 birthday of Arthur Elsperman, one of the firm’s founders and first generation of leaders. Arthur Elsperman served as the first president of the AGC of St. Louis (now the AGC of Missouri) in 1950.

Locally, five others from Tarlton have served as president or chairman of the state association: J. Al Riley in 1967, Robert Elsperman in 1981, Bob Siess in 1995, Tracy Hart in 2008 and Dirk Elsperman in 2013. Hart, Tarlton president, began her service to the St. Louis chapter in 1996 and also has been active with the national AGC.

Three AGC of Missouri members have served as treasurer of the AGC of America, including Robert Elsperman in 1999. In addition, over the last 20 years Tarlton employees collectively have held more than 100 committee positions with the national association and more than 520 committee positions with the St. Louis/Missouri chapter. In those 20 years, 26 Tarlton employees have chaired or served on AGC of St. Louis/Missouri committees.

As president of AGC of America, which is celebrating its centennial this year, Dirk Elsperman will have the unique opportunity to speak with AGC chapter leaders and members across the United States to glean important industry insights on issues and concerns facing general contractors today.

A leader in the construction industry, Elsperman has 30 years of experience and a history of service in local and national capacities for AGC. In addition to serving as chairman of the board for AGC of Missouri, he has been a contributing member on 10 committees for AGC of America that focus on construction education and training; project management and delivery; Lean construction; government affairs; and labor policy, negotiations and agreements. He also is certified in the AGC of America Advanced Management Program.

In his year as AGC of America president, Elsperman will promote workforce development and diversity in construction. He seeks to further educate and engage young people in considering the many rewarding careers in the construction industry. “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve AGC of America as we continue in the mission to provide advocacies that help shape our industry’s future,” he adds.

Elsperman has worked in all aspects of Tarlton’s operations, including apprenticing as a carpenter, estimating, project engineering and management and executive management. He holds OSHA 30 Hour and First Aid certifications. He is a member of the Southern Illinois Builders Association and served on the executive board for the St. Louis Construction Collaborative, a labor-management group that works to improve the construction industry in St. Louis.

Elsperman is a LEED Accredited Professional. He earned a bachelor’s degree in applied economics and business management from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and a master’s degree in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis. He serves on advisory boards for The Salvation Army, Olin Business School and the Foundation for St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors. An avid outdoor enthusiast, Elsperman enjoys hiking, rafting, swimming, cycling and running. He regularly participates in philanthropic races and events with Tarlton and individually.

The AGC of America is the leading association for the construction industry, representing more than 26,000 firms, including more than 6,500 of America’s leading general contractors and more than 9,000 specialty contracting firms. More than 10,500 providers and suppliers are associated with the AGC through a nationwide network of chapters.

St. Louis-based Tarlton Corp. is a leader in general contracting and construction management throughout the Midwest. The firm has completed many landmark projects in and around St. Louis and holds steadfast to its goal to improve the lives of St. Louisans through construction, civic involvement and philanthropy.

In business since 1946, Tarlton Corp. is a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise that completes projects for wide-ranging clients in the life science, higher education, health care, commercial, power and industrial markets. Tarlton also has special expertise in concrete construction, concrete restoration and hydro excavation services.

Scholarships To Be Awarded By Southern Illinois Builders Association

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The Education Committee, Scholarship Committee, Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Southern Illinois Builders Association has announced the availability of industry-related scholarships.

They are available to individuals who have a career goal in the Construction Management / Construction Related Engineering / Architectural fields and are planning to enroll as a full-time student and maintain full-time student status (12 hour minimum).

Applicants are required to show evidence that they are related to an individual employed full-time by an SIBA Member firm for a minimum of 2 years

The deadline to submit application and related materials is November 9, 2018 and may be sent to the Southern Illinois Builders Association Office, 1468 Green Mount Road, O’Fallon, Illinois

Contact Donna Richter at SIBA to receive requirements and guidelines to apply for this scholarship (618) 624-9055.


Michael Train Joins Ranken Technical College Board of Trustees

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Ranken Technical College has announced that Emerson President Michael Train has become a member of its Board of Trustees.

“For many years, Emerson has been among our most generous donors, has been a pillar of our Micro-Enterprise Program which enables Ranken students to obtain valuable hands-on technical experience, and has hired countless Ranken graduates,” said Ranken President Stan Shoun. “In addition to being grateful for their corporate support, we are deeply appreciative to Mike and other Emerson executives who personally commit and invest in our region’s future workforce.”

Emerson’s Automation Solutions and Commercial & Residential Solutions business platforms hold leading global positions and support a broad range of customers that include some of the world’s most recognizable brands. As president, Train drives the company’s focus on software and digital technology development, major investments, international growth and global shared service organizations. In addition, he serves as chairman of Emerson Automation Solutions, continuing the automation leadership he brought to his previous position as executive president of Emerson Automation Solutions.

“Ranken and Emerson have a deep legacy of partnering to enhance not just the St. Louis community but manufacturing as an industry,” Train said. “We have long worked together to help prepare the workforce of the future, and I am excited to continue this vital work as a member of the board.”

Train holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from General Motors Institute and a master’s degree in business administration from Cornell University. He currently serves on Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management Advisory Council and was a 2008 Eisenhower Fellowship recipient.

Ranken Technical College is a private, non-profit, degree-granting institution of higher learning whose primary mission is to provide the comprehensive education and training necessary to prepare students for employment and advancement in a variety of technical fields. For more information, visit

Metro Construction Career Expo To Provide Students With A Hands-On Look At Careers In The Construction Trades And The Associated Benefits

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With thousands of skilled workers in the construction trades set to retire this decade, more and more opportunities are arising for today’s youth to take advantage of the promising future this industry can have for them. The Southern Illinois Builders Association (SIBA) and the Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program (SICAP) are hosting the 20th Annual Metro Construction Career Expo with opportunities for both students and their parents to gain a better understanding of the variety of construction trades careers available and the path to pursue one.

Themed, “Earn while you learn with no college debt,” The Metro Construction Career Expo will provide individuals with hands-on-experience as they participate in interactive activities at booths manned by representatives of the various trades, including carpenters, cement masons, electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, laborers, ironworkers, sheet metal workers, operating engineers, roofers and plasterers when they visit with their schools during the day.

A special evening session for parents, students and anyone interested in a career in the construction trades is open to the public where attendees will be able to visit different stations for each of the trades to chat with representatives to learn more about what each involves. Parents will obtain additional information about how to start preparing for a future in the construction trades with suggested curriculum choices and relevant skills needed. Attendees will be provided with takeaway information, including wage and fringe benefit packages for the individual careers.

This event will be presented for the Southern Illinois Builders Association, Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program, approximately 1,000 students from schools throughout Southwestern Illinois interested in the trade industries and representatives of the various trades, including: painters, carpenters, cement masons, electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, laborers, ironworkers, sheet metal workers, operating engineers, roofers and plasterers.

Students will be visiting the Expo on: Tuesday, October 30 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday October 31 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A special evening session for parents, students, and anyone interested in a career in the construction trades will be held Tuesday, October 30 from 5 – 7 p.m.

The location is: Belle-Clair Fairgrounds, 200 South Belt East, Belleville, IL 62220

Electrical Workers Local 1 Promote Construction Careers as Higher Education

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Coming to a high school near you – a fresh look at careers in the construction industry, one that positions training as higher education.  The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 is engaging students throughout the region on the growing complexities of the electrical and communications industry that shape the higher education at the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center.  Except this higher education is free and offers students the opportunity to earn a living with benefits in a profession that is in high demand.       

The new approach unfolded on Oct. 15, 2018 when IBEW Local 1 Business Representative Chuck DeMoulin was invited to a “College and Careers” class at Herculaneum High School in Herculaneum, Mo.  “We understand and appreciate the attraction of a college education,” said DeMoulin.  “But we offer the state’s oldest and most successful higher education program serving the nation’s growing need for skilled and safe electricians and communication technicians.  Our students immediately embark on a high-tech career with limitless possibilities.  Our graduates earn a great living and many go on to become not only electricians and communication technicians, but engineers, project managers and entrepreneurs operating their own union electrical contracting business.”

The industry-funded training center is located at 2300 Hampton Ave in St. Louis and offers 10,000 hours and five years of instruction, including training in the field where students are paid with benefits.  Students are engaged in the full breadth of the rapidly evolving electrical and communications industry.  The more than 70-course curriculum uses advanced technology including a rooftop solar array and courses on Building Information Modeling (BIM) and next generation electrical/communication installations.

“It’s well documented that Missouri’s economic future is heavily dependent on a skilled workforce,” said DeMoulin. “So we have consistently invested in our apprenticeship education to build dynamic careers in an industry that is changing our world.  The digital age, smart cities, smart infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, traditional and renewable forms of energy all ultimately require a highly skilled and safe electrician or communication technician to build.”

DeMoulin points out that IBEW’s investment in promoting construction careers includes a partnership with the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) called the Electrical Connection. The Electrical Connection has become an important resource to Missouri economic and workforce development organizations.  It serves on the Missouri Governor’s Workforce Development Task Force, the “Talent for Tomorrow” program and the “Best in the Midwest” economic development strategic planning initiative

“With our NECA partners we’ve been investing in developing pacesetting skills and safety for more than 75 years and today it’s a $3 million annual investment,” said IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs.  “We even have an education partnership with St. Louis Community College that offers courses to attain a college degree.”

The training center has a graduation rate of 90 percent thanks in part to a mentoring program that helps students with the robust curriculum.  “Our advice to anyone interested in our training program is focus on STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math — because qualified applicants to our program are in high demand,” said Doug Martin, executive vice president, St. Louis NECA.  “That’s why IBEW/NECA makes a significant investment in STEM education, including partnerships with the Saint Louis Science Center and other organizations striving to help develop the skilled workforce needed to attract more businesses to Missouri.”

For more information on the IBEW/NECA Electrical Training Center visit  And to learn more about how IBEW and NECA advance career development in the electrical industry through its Electrical Connection partnership, visit

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