New Year New Challenges New Opportunities

Written by  Stephen E. Sandherr

With the start of a new year, it is time to understand and prepare for the challenges and opportunities that await our industry and our association. Of course, as our chief economist Ken Simonson notes, we expect the economy will continue its painfully slow recovery. But with mid-term elections, growing worker shortages, key legislative challenges and some exciting new and improved educational programs and events scheduled for the year, 2014 will be an eventful one for the construction industry.

November’s mid-term election will have a profound impact on the direction of our government and much of our economy for the remainder of President Obama’s term. Once again there is a chance control of the Senate may change hands and, while a change in House leadership seems less likely, a lot can happen between now and November. Ultimately, the outcome will help determine whether Washington continues with a legislative and regulatory agenda that does little to help our economic recovery or charts a new, more supportive direction.

AGC will play an active role in supporting candidates from both parties who are committed to measures that support, instead of hinder, our economic recovery. We need pro-business candidates that support sensible tax, immigration and regulatory reforms and who appreciate the vital federal role for investing in infrastructure. Our main vehicle for supporting those candidates is the member-supported AGC PAC. So if you think it is time for a more employer friendly environment in Washington, please make sure the PAC has your support.

Having a recovering economy and, hopefully, pro-growth economic policies in place won’t help much, however, if there aren’t enough qualified workers to meet demand. That is why we are working to help expand career and technical education opportunities and helping support industry recruitment efforts. We will be releasing a new workforce development plan in the coming weeks that identifies a host of measures federal, state and local leaders should take to help prepare future construction workers. And we have prepared template Build (Your State) websites that AGC chapters can customize and use to attract the next generation of construction workers.

Of course, we continue to offer vital safety training, including our on-line OSHA 10-hour and fall protection programs. We also will continue improving the Annual Convention experience even as we take advantage of growing demand for our other in-person events like the BIM Forum, the Surety Bonding and Construction Risk Management Conference and the Federal Contractors Conference, while also continuing to enhance our on-line webinars and Forums.

This is clearly going to be a very busy year. But AGC is committed to doing everything possible to make sure that our economy is more robust, the business climate more favorable, our industry more attractive and our members more prepared and connected. It will take a lot of hard work and the support of members like you, but we are ready to tackle the challenges that come and seize the opportunities that arise. Wishing you all a safe and prosperous New Year.

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