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Construction Job Openings Hit 19-Year High, according to AGC of America

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

No surprise to St. Louis construction industry employers, the AGC of America’s latest economic update July 16th reports the highest number of construction job openings, year over year, in nearly two decades.

AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson’s report details an increase of 90,000 job openings – a 32 percent jump as of the end of May as compared to one year earlier, and the highest total for May since the AGC’s monthly Data DIGest began publishing in year 2000.

In addition, Simonson reported that the construction industry hired 526,000 individuals in May 2019 (no seasonal adjustment).

“Together, the record-high job openings at the end of May, a record-low construction unemployment rate in June and a nearly 50-year low for the total unemployment rate underscore the challenge that contractors face in finding acceptable workers to hire,” Simonson said.

AGC of Missouri President Leonard Toenjes said although St. Louis isn’t seeing the jump in construction job openings that the U.S. coasts are, the concern here is nonetheless palpable.

“These workforce-related conditions hit the coasts and the border states first and then eventually reach us,” said Toenjes. “It’s not here yet, but once construction of the NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s) new headquarters begins and all the development around that enormous project gets going, a more significant increase in construction job openings in our region is likely to occur.”

Other St. Louis mega-projects preparing to start that will also contribute to the need for more construction workers include the Interstate 270 highway bridge span replacement and lane widening of a 16-mile stretch from Lilac Avenue in Missouri to Illinois Route 111.

“Our (employment) activity in the St. Louis construction market is up,” added Toenjes, “but when we measure it in terms of work hours, the increase at this point is more indicative of an 8 percent to 11 percent jump rather than the 32 percent increase that’s recorded nationally.”

Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program Awards Scholarships To Two Local Students

in Associations/News

Congratulations to this year’s recipients of the Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program’s Garland E. Whitworth Memorial Scholarships: Seth Moline, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Mitchel Widman, Southwestern Illinois College. Eligibility requirements include: writing a short paper on construction safety and submission to the SIBA Safety and Crime Prevention Committee; maintain a minimum of 2.5/4.0 grade point average at time of application; have a full-time student status; and enrolled in a construction management program at SWIC, John A. Logan College, Kaskaskia College or SIU Edwardsville.

Students chosen for the scholarships are: eligible to attend monthly Safety and Crime Prevention Committee meetings; required to take part in a full day ride along with an SIBA member company’s safety manager to observe/mentor safety walk throughs, tool box talks, etc. and get exposure to the industry; maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average during the scholarship semester; maintain full-time student status; and prepare a short presentation on experiences and knowledge learned throughout the year at the end of the school year.

Pictured left to right: Safety Committee Chairman Zach Maggio, Keeley & Sons, Inc., Seth Moline, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Michel Widman, Southwestern Illinois College; and Safety Committee Co-Chairman, Brian McGuire, Geissler Roofing Co., Inc.

Four Electrical Connection Member Projects Named Finalists in AGC Keystone Awards

in Associations/News

 

Four Electrical Connection member projects are being saluted for construction excellence in the annual Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Missouri Keystone Awards.  The projects – two apiece by NECA contractors Guarantee Electrical Co. and PayneCrest Electric, Inc. – were named finalists in industrial and building construction categories.  Since 1997, when the AGC Keystone Awards competition was launched, more than 100 NECA contractor projects have been honored.  The prestigious construction awards program salutes projects for safety, proficiency in overcoming challenges and the quality of delivery, including maintaining budget and schedule.

“Each year, as innovation and technology continue to transform the construction industry, the judging of submissions and selection of finalists becomes more demanding.  The challenges presented to our contractors and their ability to successfully meet them is the essence of the Keystone Awards,” said Len Toenjes, AGCMO president.  “The ingenuity and craftsmanship represented by this year’s finalists continue to exemplify the spirit of the Keystone Awards.”

This year, Guarantee’s finalists include its work on The Last Hotel in downtown St. Louis for Fe Equus Development and the Ameren Process Waste Water Treatment facility.  PayneCrest was saluted for its work on the Ameren Labadie Fly Ash facility and the Monsanto/Bayer Greenhouses.

Guarantee and PayneCrest are members of the Electrical Connection, a partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractor Association (NECA).

Winners of the 2019 Keystone Awards will be announced and celebrated at the AGC’s Construction Awards Gala scheduled for Monday, Nov. 4 at the River City Casino & Hotel in St. Louis.

For more information, visit www.agcmo.org.

 

IFMA St. Louis Appoints Members to Board

in Associations/News

The St. Louis Chapter of IFMA (International Facility Management Association) announced officers elected to its Board of Directors and members appointed to chair its committees. Their terms run from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020.

Elected to the board and their respective companies are:

  • President, Jeff Touchette, Jarrell Contracting
  • Vice President, Scott Held, Ameren Corp.
  • Treasurer, Dave Gardin, The Koman Group
  • Secretary, Michael Wright, Ameren Corp.

Members who are chairing the organization’s committees are:

  • Membership, Karl Gnau, ABBCO Service Corp.
  • Marketing, Erin Valentine, McCarthy Building Companies
  • Education, Tauquincy Neal, St. Charles City-County Library
  • Programs, Gary Wood, Stryker Construction
  • Sponsorship, Matt Huesling, Woodard
  • Advocacy Liaison, James Delgado, Cozad Commercial Real Estate
  • Golf Classic, Steve Polk, Stormwater STL
  • Special Events, Kristie Gabel, Elite Cuisine
  • Sustainability, Jim Wideman

IFMA St. Louis offers its members a learning and networking environment among its diverse membership and supplies its members with the tools to achieve their professional goals. Started in 1985, IFMA St. Louis has more than 250 members representing small and Fortune 500 companies throughout the region. For more information, visit www.ifma.org.

 

American Subcontractors Association Members Elect Anthony Brooks as 2019-29 ASA President

in Associations/News

Members of the American Subcontractors Association, a national trade organization representing construction subcontractors, specialty trade contractors, and suppliers, elected Anthony Brooks of Platinum Drywall in Maumelle AR, to serve as the Association’s 2019-20 President. His term will begin on July 1. He will succeed Courtney Little of ACE Glass Construction in Little Rock, AR.

ASA members also elected Brian Cooper of AROK Inc in Phoenix, AZ as Vice President, and Brian Carroll of Sanderford and Carroll, PC in Temple, TX as Secretary/Treasurer. They will join Brooks in serving a one-year term, from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.

Mr. Brooks previously served as ASA Vice President, a position he has held since 2001.  In addition, he has served as the Chapter President for ASA of Central Arkansas as well as ASA Treasurer.  Mr. Brooks was an estimator for Horton Drywall from 1993 until 2001. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, AR.

ASA Chief Operating Officer, Richard Bright, celebrated Brooks’ election. “Every year ASA elects a new President and I am honored to be able to work with Anthony Brooks during his term, as we continue to follow ASA’s Strategic Plan.”

“Education, networking and advocacy are vital to grow and strengthen this association,” stated Mr. Brooks, “and those will be my focus in the coming year. I plan to help form and grow alliances, start some trade peer groups, and build on the fine legacy of my predecessor, Courtney Little. It’s important that we reach out to all members and see how we can serve them meaningfully.”

The American Subcontractor’s Association, founded in 1966, has local chapters throughout the country. With member companies across the country, ASA promotes the rights and interests of subcontractors, specialty contractors and suppliers by building strength in community through education, advocacy, networking and professional growth.

Lucas Avenue Now Open on Laclede’s Landing

in Associations/News

Laclede’s Landing Community Improvement District and the St. Louis Development Corporation today announced that Lucas Ave. opened to traffic July 1, creating a new main artery access point to Laclede’s Landing. Lucas Ave. is now connected all the way from Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd. to Lumiere Blvd., (3rd Street), bisecting what up until recently was a large surface parking lot. The newly constructed stretch of Lucas Ave. provides a direct connection to what could be a newly created residential row along Lucas Ave., allowing for more density in the area and attracting ancillary development in and around The Landing.

Advantes Development is developing the popular Peper Lofts in the former Bi-State Development Headquarters at 701 N. First Street, and principal Brian Minges notes the Lucas Ave. project is a factor in his decision to pursue two additional buildings on Laclede’s Landing for redevelopment. He has both the Hoffman Building (700 N. Second Street) and Greeley Building (618-624 N. Second Street) under contract for a redevelopment project that would bring additional residential units and a mix of first floor retail and office space to The Landing. A couple of concepts are being considered, and Minges hopes to be able to announce more details in the coming months.

“Brian is seeing great success with the Peper Lofts, which is The Landing’s first-ever multifamily development and is quickly filling up,” said John Clark, president of the Laclede’s Landing Community Improvement District. “With the completion of all the work on the Gateway Arch grounds and museum, and another $20 million in recent investments on The Landing and more in the works, we anticipate increasing demand for additional residential options from those who want to live in this premiere riverfront location.”

While the Lucas Avenue project represents a relatively small investment with its $350,000 budget, it is a high-impact project that will provide not only much-needed vehicular access to the south end of Laclede’s Landing, but also pedestrian sidewalks with new trees and lighting. In addition to serving existing businesses and the new developments Advantes is proposing, Lucas Avenue also runs parallel to the Katherine Ward Burg Garden that Great Rivers Greenway is developing at the southeast intersection of Lucas Ave. and First Street. Great Rivers Greenway hopes to begin construction this summer on the project, which is the first step in its long-term plan to redevelop the St. Louis Riverfront north of the Eads Bridge and Gateway Arch. Located along the Mississippi Greenway, this half-acre site – featuring stepped terraces, curving seat walls and an iconic trellis – will provide a place to enjoy views of the Mississippi River, passing trains and the Eads Bridge as part of a uniquely St. Louis experience.

“This project couldn’t have happened without the help of a lot of people and agencies,” said Otis Williams, Executive Director of the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC). “Over the past four years, there have probably been more meetings on this short, 300-foot street project than any other in the City’s history. That may be a slight exaggeration, but I’d like to thank every one of the individuals involved for their part in making this happen.”

SBC Contracting, Inc., the general contractor for the City of St. Louis, was the lead contractor on the Lucas Ave. project.

To learn more about all the great experiences that can be found on Laclede’s Landing, visit lacledeslanding.com.

Laclede’s Landing is downtown St. Louis’ oldest district and only riverfront entertainment/dining destination. The nine-block area features unique restaurants, bars, and nightclubs as well as a variety of retail shops, attractions, and businesses. Just steps away from the Gateway Arch, Laclede’s Landing offers a historical experience with charming cobblestone streets and century-old buildings overlooking the mighty Mississippi River.

MSD Implements New Prevailing Wage Program to Set Minimum Pay Rates

in Associations/News

The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District (MSD) is implementing a Prevailing Wage Program effective July 1, 2019.

The first wage order will take effect for all applicable projects advertised for bid on or after July 1, 2019. Subsequently, MSD will make a new wage order determination biannually, on or about January 1 and July 1of each year.

Under the Program, approved by MSD’s Board on April 11, 2019, MSD’s prevailing wages will be based on the wage rate most commonly paid, as measured by the number of hours worked at each wage rate, for that occupational title on construction projects completed in the City of St. Louis or St. Louis County during the reporting period.

In addition, entry level workers/trainees will not be permitted to work at a less than the prevailing wage rate unless they are enrolled in an US Department of Labor approved apprenticeship program and the ratio of trainees to journeymen on the job site shall not be greater than permitted under the plan approved by the Employment and Training Administration.

Contractors, labor unions and others interested in learning more about the MSD Prevailing Wage Program or in submitting hour and wage information should refer to the MSD website at https://www.stlmsd.com/msd-work/msd-prevailing-wage-program.

Questions regarding MSD’s Prevailing Wage Program can be sent toPrevailingWageMSD@stlmsd.com.

WCOE National President meets with SBA in St Louis, MO

in Associations/News

Women Construction Owners  and  Executives National President Sheila A Ohrenberg and Regional Director Dianna Richardson lead a meeting with local Women Construction Owners,   Maureen E Brinkley, District Director and Adrienne Foster, Region 7 Advocate  of the Small Business Administration, to discuss self-certification and upcoming opportunities for Women Construction Owners in Saint Louis, Missouri.

“Saint Louis is in need of a strong women’s organization”, Maureen E Brinkley, District Director, St Louis District Director Small Business Administration.
The event ignites a continued synergy for WCOE with more events to come including industry educational events, minority and women coalition meetings and networking events promoting women in construction industry.

The Core Purpose of WCOE:
To promote the role of women-owned businesses in the construction industry, to advance women in executive management positions within the industry, to provide resources to enhance the professional development of every member, to provide a network of executive women in the construction industry for peer-to-peer assistance and information, and to monitor and pursue legislation advantageous to women in general and the construction industry in particular.

MoDOT Asks for Public Comment by July 5 on Proposed Transport Plan

in Associations/News

By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

Missouri Dept. of Transportation St. Louis District Engineer Tom Blair is reminding individuals within and beyond the construction industry to weigh in by July 5 on the agency’s proposed 2020-2024 statewide transportation improvement plan or STIP.

MoDOT has been gathering public comment since June 6 on the proposed 5-year plan, which identifies schedules and costs for highway and bridge improvement projects across the state. The program, if approved July 10 by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, also details engineering and right-of-way acquisition costs for specific projects.

“The STIP was developed with the assumption that federal funding approved in the (federal government’s) FAST Act (set to expire in September 2020) would remain constant through 2024,” Blair said. “This allowed us to plan, prioritize and program projects at a level consistent with the FAST Act, while also identifying projects that would be delayed in the event the level of federal funding is reduced.”

To view the proposed 2020-2024 MoDOT STIP, go to https://www.modot.org/form/draft-2020-2024-statewide-transp.

Those wishing to contribute comments between now and next Friday should email them to STIPcomments@modot.mo.gov.

Electrical Connection: A True Partner in Career Development

in Associations/News

By Jim Curran, Executive Vice President, Electrical Connection and Dennis Gralike, Director, IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center.

A job is good, but a career can inspire greater possibilities and the passion to achieve them.  Such was the case for Sabrina Westfall, who 20 years ago began her fulfillment journey for what she was truly passionate about – construction that shapes our world.  She began learning all she could about the industry, aligning herself with valuable resources.  She found one such resource in the Electrical Connection which unites the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). IBEW/NECA creates careers in the electrical industry. 

“I liked working with my hands and was particularly interested in electrical and communications work, which is rapidly changing our world,” said Westfall.  “The IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center offered an incredible opportunity to explore that passion. It’s a 100% free of charge, allowing me to earn a living as part of the program and the training was top notch” IBEW/NECA invests $3 million annually in training.

As Westfall completed 10,000 hours of training, her skills helped build projects at UMSL, the Washington Avenue revitalization and renovations for Big Brothers Big Sisters.  “You could tell she was something special,” said Dennis Gralike, director of the training center. “She had a desire to succeed and overcome any challenge, well worth IBEW/NECA’s investment in her career development.”

After graduating from the training center in 2005, Westfall’s fortitude was tested when the Great Recession dried up work in 2008. Her response was to tap two programs supported by the Electrical Connection to not only broaden her skills, but also ultimately launch her own electrical contracting company.

“At some point, you have to take your destiny in your own hands,” said Westfall.  “I wanted to be an indispensable asset to the NECA contracting community while at the same time build the skills to join that community as an entrepreneur.”

Westfall began reading books, going to seminars and taking classes. She prepared for her electrical masters’ exam by taking several continuing education classes at the training center. These again were 100% free and funded by IBEW/NECA with no tuition or student loans. It was also a necessary step to start up an electrical contracting business. Certified as a master electrician in 2010, Westfall‘s skills were in greater demand.  In 2014, she launched J West Electrical Contracting.

Construction, though, is an unforgiving business for startups, bedeviled by late payments for services and aggravating cash flow issues.  Only 36.4% of construction startups last five years. To ensure her sustainability as a business enterprise, Westfall tapped a 13-year-old program also supported by the Electrical Connection IBEW/NECA partnership – the Regional Union Construction Center (RUCC).

Launched in 2006 by the venerable labor-management group, Saint Louis Construction Cooperative, RUCC helps minority- and women-owned union construction companies sustain and grow business. Using volunteers from the area’s contractor, legal and accounting community, it mentors startups with business advisory boards.  IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs serves on the RUCC board.

“RUCC represents an extraordinary commitment to workforce and entrepreneur development by the Electrical Connection and the union construction industry,” said Alan Richter, RUCC’s director. “We equip startups with a support network, encourage emerging construction businesses to address tough issues such as cash flow, expenses and negotiating with prime contractors.  Sometimes this means declining jobs that would be bad for their business.”

Now in its fifth year, Westfall’s J West is doing well.  It has worked on projects at Ballpark Village, Lambert Airport and Washington University.  She’s worked with other large NECA contractors including Bell Electrical Contractors, American Electric & Data, Guarantee Electrical Construction Co., and RJP Electric LLC. “Being able to work with other NECA contractors gives us the opportunity to work on larger projects as a second tier subcontractor,” noted Westfall. “This allows J. West to be seen by larger general contractors and have our work evaluated in hopes of being a prime contractor in the future.”

“It would have been easy to remain an electrician or just be a two-person small project electrical contractor,” said Westfall. “But the Electrical Connection partnership is committed to career fulfillment in so many ways. If you have the passion to succeed, IBEW/NECA is a great partner!”

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