President Clark addresses the membership during the first Membership Luncheon of 2018.
I was born into this industry. I've never known anything else. I grew up going to work with my dad A.J. Some of my first memories are riding around in the truck with him and talking on the C.B.
He taught me a lot about this industry. One of the most important was that as long as the industry gets better, you will do better. If you give to the industry, it always gives back.
That’s what AGC is about. And that’s the message I want to give to members.
The best way—at least in my experience--to enter that door is through area meetings. Getting involved in local issues, supporting the local PAC, and becoming an area chair. One of the most important lessons leading up to this year came from my work developing our area PAC, learning the importance of our local relationships and the need for regular communication with our representatives.
Sometimes, the return on investment takes longer than it should, and this is how we begin 2018. With the promise of new money to the tune of $70 billion over the next 15 years, we are not seeing this translate to the lettings. Politicians are drawing a line in the sand with regard to toll roads. TxDOT is not letting the number of projects we anticipated. With contractors expanding operations and investing money in advance of the expected rampup, the lack of movement creates difficult decisions for contractors all over the state.
We must work with TxDOT to increase the lettings. This is Priority One for The Chapter moving into 2018. It will require a strong offense with TxDOT and a strong defense in the legislature. We will be aggressive in developing our PAC and meeting with legislators. We will be active on all fronts.
Our offense begins now. We will work as partners with TxDOT to be accountable to the pledge to deliver congestion relief in urban areas and connectivity in the rural areas. Our areas will work with their districts to have plans ready and projects scheduled. We will meet with TxDOT Administration to make sure they are equally committed. We will educate the commissioners on what this industry is capable of and commit to the demands of an accelerated letting schedule. We will meet with state representatives, senators, and statewide leaders to update them on the status of promise they made to voters with the passage of Props 1 and 7.
Until the legislature convenes in January 2019, I will make a massive push for PAC involvement and coordination of members contacting their legislators. This will put us in position for our defensive strategies come session. It is up to us to convince the legislature that the highway funding they appropriated will be used efficiently and responsibly, and that the state would not be better served by redistributing it to other governmental responsibilities.
Hearkening back to the theme of Industry First, we will continue to serve as good stewards of the industry. Scholarship applications are out, and I encourage all of you to get these in the hands of member employees. We have had poor showing of those seeking vocational degrees and the Scholarship Committee is calling for increased participation there. If you have employees interested in pursuing their education, or who have children interested in entering the industry, I ask you to get these applications to them. They have until March 23 to get them in.
The Scholarship Program is just one aspect of workforce development, and we are poised to do much, much more.
Workforce Development has been a burning issue for many people, none more so than Past President Seth Schulgen. His work with AGC’s Scholarship Program, his move to reinforce the vocational trades, and his passion for the issue makes him a natural leader. He is already at work as chairman of the newly-minted Workforce Development Committee, with the ambitious charge of finding ways to increase the skilled labor pool. This will take coordination of high schools, technical schools, colleges and universities, to explore ways of getting new workers into skilled crafts.
The federal and state government have been trying to create something meaningful for some time, and it has largely missed the mark for our industry. It is going to take the employers to create something meaningful, and we will start at the educational side of it.
Luckily, Seth is teamed up with Tom Johnson as the staff person in charge of the issue. With their knowledge, professionalism, and knack for getting things done, I have no doubt we will see some exciting progress on this issue.
I will be traveling around the state to speak on these priorities. I hope to see you there. We are going to need strong partners like you in the year to come.