Reshaping the Construction Industry

The potential use of eminent domain authority is at the heart of a controversy over a proposed bullet train that would connect Dallas and Houston.

During this legislative session in Austin, which is held for the first five months of the year, Texas Central Railway is hoping lawmakers do not do anything to prevent its $12 billion project from moving forward. The project would use Japanese technology allowing riders to make their way from Houston to Dallas in just about 90 minutes - a trip that typically takes 4 hours or more by car or truck.

Rural Republican lawmakers are asserting themselves, arguing the project could end up being costly to taxpayers and the company might use eminent domain to condemn land for construction.   Read more » about Eminent Domain at the Heart of Controversy in Proposed Texas Bullet Train Construction

The following article was authored by Mark L. Johnson and originally published in AWCI's Construction Dimensions magazine.

How do you ensure workers sharpen their skill sets? It’s a problem common in regions lacking unions and their great training programs. Most open shops can’t afford to develop craft training on their own. It’s time-consuming. It’s expensive.

So, how can it get done?

One idea comes from Houston. The Construction Career Collaborative (C3) has several high-profile projects, including some for the Texas Children’s Hospital. C3 has a novel approach: Owners require all players to have training programs in place. It’s a prerequisite to bid a C3 job.

“The wisdom behind what we’re doing is that it’s owner-driven,” says Chuck Gremillion, C3’s executive director. “The owner says, ‘This is my ballgame. These are my rules.’”    Read more » about Trained to Win

The construction industry in Texas is a great career option for many people who may have never previously considered it. That’s the message behind a new campaign called “Texas Builds” that was recently launched by the Associated General Contractors, or AGC, of Texas.

“Nearly 700,000 men and women work in construction throughout Texas. Construction workers in the state earn 10 percent more than the average worker in the state, and bring home an average salary of over $60,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” the AGC said. “And since most construction jobs do not require college degrees, many of those workers do not have college debts to worry about,” the group said.    Read more » about Construction Industry Launches “Texas Builds” Campaign

Construction spending, starts stumble in January; Beige Book finds 'modest' growth

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Construction spending totaled $1.180 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in January, a decrease of 1.0% from the December rate but a 3.1% year-over-year (y/y) gain from the January 2016 rate, the Census Bureau reported on Wednesday. Private residential spending in January increased 0.5% for the month and 5.9% y/y. New multifamily construction increased 9.0% y/y; new single-family construction rose 2.3% y/y; and residential improvements rose 11% y/y. Private nonresidential spending was unchanged from December but climbed 8.9% y/y.    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: Feb. 27-Mar. 3, 2017

Hi there. The Chamberlin Man here.

Value engineering is the buzz in the construction biz. The game is to be smarter, faster, safer and offer a better product. Do more than one at the same time and you’re “winning,” as the kids these days say.

I’m not knocking it. Applying a little ingenuity to deliver a better solution, save money or be most efficient is fantastic. Value is what everyone is after. But, what is it that makes one company better than another at providing value? At Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing, I think we have a pretty darn good secret sauce. Let me give you a taste.   Read more » about Value Engineering: Who Cares?

The Houston Chronicle published an article recently about our undocumented workforce, primarily in the construction industry, and it deserves an immediate response.

The author laid it out very well. The undocumented workforce is and has been providing cheap labor for over three decades and they would be sorely missed if deportations continue without an immigration reform bill.

But there seems to be a misunderstanding about the root of the problem. It’s not just that so many are in this nation without documentation. It’s that they have never been employees. The way most people employ them – including homebuilders who have very few if any skilled craftsmen on payroll – is as independent subcontractors.

Read more » about Getting to the Root of the Immigration Challenge

The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) hosted a town hall on Friday for leaders in the education and construction industries to learn about and discuss ways in which they can partner to bring workforce opportunities to students and build the construction craft workforce of the future.  The UpSkill Houston Town Hall: Build Your Facilities and Build Your Community was held in the GHP’s beautiful new space in Partnership Tower, where regional superintendents, college and university chancellors, and construction contractor executives and owners enjoyed a light lunch while listening to the program before offering their own comments and questions to the panel at the end.

Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, kicked off the program by welcoming the group.   Read more » about GHP Hosts Forum to Discuss Partnership Between Business and Education to Build Construction Workforce

Construction starts soar in January, Dodge says; airport projects take off; ABI slips

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

The value of construction starts jumped 12% from December to January at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, Dodge Data & Analytics reported on Wednesday. "After losing momentum during last year's fourth quarter, nonresidential building strengthened in January, with much of the lift coming from the start of the $3.4 billion Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia Airport in New York [LGA] as well as groundbreaking for several other large airport terminal projects."    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: February 15-24, 2017

Following high-profile immigration raids and a shift in the enforcement stance of the federal government, there have been reports around Texas over the last week that some construction workers do not feel safe reporting to work.

It may all be a matter of perception, given that President Trump has described the raids as a wide “military operation” while the Department of Homeland Security portrayed the recent enforcement actions as fairly routine. But that perception can be a reality for the industry if there is fear among a large percentage of the workforce that they may be rounded up on jobsites.

“The Texas (and national) construction industry has been suffering a workforce shortage for many years now,” said Phil Thoden, President of AGC Austin. “In fact, the latest AGC of America survey conducted in 2016 found that 74% of Texas contractors are having trouble filling craft worker positions, and that number has been consistently high for several years.”   Read more » about After Immigration Raids, Construction Firms See Mixed Reaction Among Workforce

Next week the 2017 National Craft Championships, hosted by the Associated Builders and Contractors of America (ABC), will take place at the beautiful Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale.  Prior to their trip to Florida, I was able to meet up with three of the craft trainees and apprentices from the Houston area who will be competing in the event.  Each of these competitors is sponsored by the Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF), the educational affiliate of ABC Greater Houston.  Each of them receives CMEF Training either at a CMEF sponsored college campus or at the CMEF training facility in La Porte, Texas.   Read more » about Houston-area Craft Professionals Ready to Compete in the 30th annual ABC National Craft Championships [VIDEO]

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