How did the construction dive fare in “megacities” during the pandemic?


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In February last year, Construction Dive reported five “small mega cities” experiencing a commercial construction boom. Most of these Midwestern cities were enjoying an influx of construction work, driven by booming labor markets and a low cost of living. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, shutting down entire industries like hospitality and aviation and forcing people to stay home in order to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Fortunately, most states and local jurisdictions have declared construction an essential service, so many contractors have been able to operate through the tighter lockdowns, but some owners and developers have stopped or canceled their building plans altogether. Now that the United States has entered more than a year into the COVID-19 outbreak, what has happened to construction activity in the big, smaller cities? Are they still thriving? The good news is that it appears that COVID-19 cannot dampen the enthusiasm for these cities nor what made them thriving in the first place. Here’s where they stand today: Cedar Rapids and Iowa Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance Cedar Rapids and the surrounding communities are accustomed to taking on and overcoming challenges. Flood destroying property has always been a problem there. In fact, according to Cedar Rapids, historic floods and hurricanes in 2008 cost the FEMA $ 848 million, the agency’s sixth-largest announcement ever. The total property damage was estimated at $ 6 billion. “As a community, we feel, if we can recover from the 2008 floods, we can meet any challenge,” said Ron Corbett, retention and expansion strategist at the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. “This is the spirit that exists in society and it is clear to the business community and citizens.” He said that recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic has become easier because the country has not been as constrained as others during the pandemic when it comes to shutting down certain sectors, so it took relatively less time to recover. . The companies have kept construction work busy there as they continue to invest their money in capital projects – $ 539 million in 2020. Corbett said that includes “home operation,” Corbett said, of BAE Systems’ 139 aviation R&D and manufacturing facility. Million dollars. “We feel like we’re about to go back to where we were,” he said. Columbus, Ohio Wikimedia Commons, Construction work in the Ohio capital has had its share of ups and downs since the pandemic spread, said Barton Hacker, President and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors Central Ohio Chapter. He said that from March to August of last year, contractors, part of an industry declared key in Ohio, were busy “burning” the large backlog in the area. But in August, owners and developers began putting some projects on hold temporarily, slowing construction activity and worrying about the future among many contractors. Ironically, the high level of activity during most of 2020 left many contractors, who believed they would need financial assistance through 2021, ineligible for the second round of Payroll Protection loans that required evidence of a 25% reduction in revenue. However, progressing rapidly through March, Hacker said, many of the projects that were on hold have restarted, and contractors are busy again as ever, except for some slowdowns in certain sectors such as state-funded school and hotel projects. The big question, he said, is how the office construction will end. Columbus is home to large companies like Chase Mortgage that have decided to keep some employees working remotely, reducing their need for building space. But the constant influx of new residents into Columbus, which did not stop the epidemic, created great demand on the residential side, including high-rise buildings. “Things are going well in Columbus,” Hacker said. Nashville, Tennessee Rick Diamond via Getty Images Nashville is another city with a booming construction industry despite the pandemic. The city issued $ 4.4 billion in building permits between March 21, 2020 and March 20, 2021, according to the Nashville Administration of Symbols and Building Safety Records. This represents an increase of more than $ 400 million over the same period between 2019 and 2020. While residential construction paid nearly half of these figures, the remainder represents a wide range of new commercial projects, whether they are new construction or restorations. In addition, tourism in Music City has not slowed, said Clay Crownover, president and CEO of the Greater Tennessee Branch of Contractors and Collaborating Contractors, and new residents are moving to Nashville in large numbers, partly driven by relatively low taxes and corporate jobs. “There have been a few closures, however [those projects] Crownover said what remains a challenge is finding enough skilled workers. To this end, its ABC branch is expanding its apprenticeship program so that it can train more workers. The class is about to graduate 96 students, it has enrolled more than 425 students this year and wants to expand to support 625. “We hope to get more men and girls into our system so we can train and employ them,” he said. Omaha, Nebraska, was restored from Wikipedia on April 19, 2021, said Jan Beach, CEO of Associated General Contractors of America Nebraska Building, another city that had stopped building at the start of the pandemic but returned to normal activity soon after, and that’s because The first place goes to a governor, who has limited restrictions and closings, and designated construction as an essential service. And like other cities where construction was deemed necessary, there was a short pause as Beach said contractors decided how to keep workers safe while continuing to move forward with their work. Besides, there were no real fluctuations in construction activity, she said. “We don’t have great highs, but the flip side is that we don’t have great lows either,” said Beach. With everything that goes hand in hand with being a thriving city to build comes the necessary maintenance and repairs and the expansion of roads, highways and bridges, said Katie Wilson, executive director of AGC Nebraska Chapter, whose members do the horizontal work. She said the projects are fairly well funded but should receive a boost from the US bailout bill. Wilson has not commented on the exact amount that will be used for state Department of Transportation projects, but he told Construction Dive that the Department of Transportation has said that some will go toward preserving and maintaining the infrastructure. Each US state is set to receive $ 100 million and can use the funds for construction projects or other initiatives deemed necessary. One of the problems Omaha faces – one it shares with many other cities across the country – is the lack of materials. ”[It’s] “The biggest headache from last year,” Wilson said. Rochester, Minnesota Perkins Eastman In terms of recovering from the pandemic, it doesn’t hurt to have one of the most respected names in healthcare – Mayo Clinic – as a driver in fact, according to Patrick Seib, CEO of the Economic Development Agency for the Medical Destination Center, Mayo employs more than 30% of Rochester’s population of 110,000. The DMC Project is a 20-year initiative that will see Mayo, private developers, and Minnesota invest billions in creating a global healthcare destination. However, when the pandemic first struck, there was a lot of uncertainty about what that might mean for the city as Mayo canceled surgeries and elective treatments in order to prepare and said it was for a possible “attack” on COVID-19 patients. “Mayo Clinic had to prepare for the unknown regarding COVID cases and the impact of the coronavirus on initial treatment. This resulted in a three to four-month hiatus for about 100 construction projects totaling $ 150 million. But by June, it was clear that the number Patients in the hospital will not be as high as it was originally feared, so Mayo has resumed elective measures and resumed construction projects. Al Seeb attributes the major cuts that occurred in Mayo at the start of the pandemic as one of the reasons the health system was able to resume its construction program so quickly, nor Expect any significant delays as these projects continue. In fact, general contractor and developer Mortenson laid the groundwork for his second major project at DMC in September, and last month, private investment in DMC exceeded $ 1 billion. What people have realized is that our economy is very strong, despite the epidemic, because Mayo Clinic is the engine. ”


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