From the Publisher
Giving our infrastructure
a shot in the arm
The 2008 presidential election certainly is being recorded as one of the most significant in U.S. history. No matter which side of the ballot you were on, there’s no denying that both candidates brought record numbers of voters to the polls and created a national dialogue on critical issues that affect each and every one of us. But now that the excitement is winding down and perhaps the euphoria waning, let us not forget that our president-elect has a myriad of problems to address – particularly the economy.
As you read this, President-Elect Barack Obama likely still is assembling his White House staff and appointing Cabinet members for his administration. At press time, he also was working with Congress and the Bush administration to broker an additional economic stimulus package – a plan focused more on stateside job creation rather than bailing out international banking and insurance corporations.
The current stimulus package proposal could reach $500 to $700 billion (or more), and include a tax credit for job creation, as well as federal funds for public works projects, such as school repairs, roads and bridges. This aspect of the plan is key, I believe, to rousing real economic recovery – and for many reasons. Chief among these reasons is the fact that infrastructure funding creates significant employment opportunities that remain in communities when earmarked projects are completed. Additionally – and I know I’m preaching to the choir a bit – the nation’s infrastructure has long been relegated to a sort of second-class status, with state and federal authorities only fixing things when broken and seeking expansions or improvements when it’s already too late.
Several industry associations provide data to back up these assertions. For example, the Portland Cement Association reported post-election that if the government doesn’t act swiftly, the nation could lose 2 million jobs in 2009. “We need a government stimulus package that creates jobs throughout the nation. Infrastructure funding could create jobs on both an immediate and long-term basis,” said the group’s Chief Economist, Ed Sullivan. “For every 10 construction jobs created by a project, the community gains 17 additional jobs that stay in the region after a project’s completion.”
We all know one sector feeds the other within the construction industry, and even in this down economy the A/E/C world could use a real boost. The AIA reported in October that the typically resilient Architecture Billings Index dipped to historic lows this year, dropping to the lowest point in its 13-year history. This means firms are taking on fewer projects, and the downturn is being seen in all segments, from public to private, institutional to residential. The right kind of stimulus package could get your old clients calling again and have new clients walking through your doors.
The federal government’s decision for additional economic stimulus likely will be decided swiftly, so make sure your voices are heard. Contact your local congressmen and senators. Tell them how crucial infrastructure spending is to the overall health of our economy. Let them know that your industry – not just banks and insurers – needs a shot in the arm. MD