The CAWV's mission includes communicating with the public on the impact the construction industry has on the economy. We accomplish this goal by writing and submitting editorials, hosting media events, participating in the release of various studies and purchasing advertising.
Nathaniel Orders, president, Orders Construction Company, St. Albans, has been elected president of the Contractors Association of West Virginia. Orders replaces Michael Gianni, president of The James White Construction Company of Weirton, who will serve on the Board of Directors as immediate past president. Serving with President Orders as officers of the CAWV for the coming year are James Ridgeway, president, March-Westin Company, Inc., Morgantown, senior vice president; Tim Spradling, president, Benchmark Construction Company, Inc., Hurricane, vice president; John P. Boyle II, president, Source Contractors, LLC, Morgantown, treasurer; and James W. Dailey III, president, W. Harley Miller Contractors, Inc., Martinsburg, secretary.
West Virginia has the most deteriorated interstate highway bridges in the U.S. and ranks among the worst in the country for percentage of interstate pavement in poor condition, a report released Tuesday by a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation research nonprofit organization found. Released to mark the 65th anniversary of the U.S. interstate system, the report by TRIP found that 13% of interstate bridges in West Virginia are in poor or structurally deficient condition... TRIP quotes Mike Clowser, chairman of the West Virginia Business and Industry Council (BIC) and executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, saying, “The state’s businesses require a safe and modern transportation system to move goods and services. Quick passage of a new federal highway bill will allow West Virginia to address its critical transportation infrastructure needs.”
State residents may not know much about the Contractors Association of West Virginia, but nearly everybody has seen what they do. The Contractors Association of West Virginia represents about 450 members, who in turn employ about 20,000 West Virginians. They build West Virginia’s roads, bridges, water and sewer lines, schools, hospitals, airports, dams and more. Mike Clowser, executive director of the CAWV, said their members create and maintain the infrastructure for the state.
Members of the Contractors Association of West Virginia were thrilled with the Legislature’s approval of $150 Million in funding this week for more than 400 highway maintenance projects across the state. According to Association Executive Director Mike Clowser, the redirection of funding makes up for a lag the Department of Highways has experienced with revenues from the gasoline tax. The gas tax revenues, where much of the maintenance funding comes from,are well behind estimates for 2021. “If you look at the types of project this $150 Million is going to address, that money has really not been available up until this point,” Clowser said on MetroNews Talkline.
He’s known her for as long as he can remember, once challenging “Shel” to a heart-pumping zipline race down a rugged mountaintop. The way she tells it, they actually first met when he came to measure the carpeting for her new house in the 1970s. The two U.S. senators from West Virginia, Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Shelley Moore Capito, grew up in politically prominent families and now find themselves playing central roles in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plans… “We depend on infrastructure for every single thing we do,” said Mike Clowser, the head of the Contractors Association of West Virginia. For a population that voted overwhelmingly, twice, for Donald Trump for president, there are vast potential political benefits, but also risks, to the senators’ roles in Biden’s infrastructure push.
On April 7, AGC of America CEO Stephen Sandherr, Contractors Association of West Virginia Executive Director Mike Clowser and members of AGC Chapter-CAWV met in Charleston, West Virginia with Senator Joe Manchin on the PRO Act—the greatest threat to open shop and union construction firms—and President Biden’s Infrastructure Plan, on which you can find a comprehensive AGC analysis here. Sen. Manchin is one of five Democrats who has not pledged support for the PRO Act. He is also a pivotal player in the Biden’s administration’s plans for enacting any infrastructure legislation through the partisan reconciliation process that would only require 51—instead of 60—votes to pass in the Senate. AGC and its members in West Virginia and around the country will continue to oppose efforts to enact the PRO Act and to support significant investments in our nation’s transportation, building and utility infrastructure.
West Virginia, which is carved into the rugged but beautiful Allegheny region and Appalachian mountains, has not been without its struggles in providing public services through the decades. But its leaders are reimagining and reframing West Virginia, with surface transportation at the core of those efforts. The state also is positioned to address the unceasing call to reinvest in, and devise sustainable funding, to construct adaptive and modern transportation infrastructure in the United States. West Virginia’s U.S. Senators, moderate Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican pragmatist Shelley Moore Capito, sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee… “West Virginia’s infrastructure is one of its greatest assets and most important responsibilities,” agrees Mike Clowser, Executive Director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia. “A critical underpinning of our state’s economic future is the safety, security and stability of our roads and bridges. … Most every major highway or bridge project in West Virginia requires federal funding as part of the financing package in order for it to be constructed.”
The 42nd annual West Virginia Construction and Design EXPO, scheduled for March 24 – 25 at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center, has been canceled due to continued concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to cancel the 2021 EXPO was made by the EXPO Board of Directors. The need to withdraw from an in-person March event was recognized after EXPO conducted a survey of exhibitors and another survey of attendees. “The survey responses revealed an overwhelming majority of companies who were still not allowed to travel or attend large gatherings,” said show manager Cassidy Webb. “A number of respondents indicated they were not comfortable attending an in-person event in March because of the uncertainty of the pandemic.”
The latest annual report by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation research nonprofit, “West Virginia Transportation by the Numbers: Meeting the State’s Need for Safe, Smooth and Efficient Mobility,” was released on Tuesday. The report determined that deteriorated, congested, and unsafe roads and bridges cost metro Charleston drivers an average of $1,280 a year in extra costs for vehicle repairs, wasted fuel, and lost time. For metro Huntington drivers, that annual additional cost is slightly less, averaging $1,273, the TRIP report determined. Statewide, poor road conditions cost state drivers a total of $1.6 billion annually, the report concluded. Mike Clowser, chairman of the West Virginia Business and Industry Council and executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, added, “Good roads and bridges provide West Virginia with the opportunity to compete with other states in attracting jobs and economic development. Investing in roads and bridges is key to West Virginia’s economic future.” Other participants of the virtual news release included Byrd White, secretary, West Virginia Department of Transportation / commissioner, West Virginia Division of Highways, Jimmy Wriston, P.E., deputy secretary, West Virginia Department of Transportation / deputy commissioner, West Virginia Division of Highways, and a video message from Senator Shelley Moore Capito, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
The West Virginia Business & Industry Council recently announced that Mike Clowser has been elected as chairman of the organization. He succeeds Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, who has served in the position since 2012. Clowser, who serves as executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, will assume the chairmanship of the West Virginia Business & Industry Council on Jan. 1, 2021. Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association, was elected first vice chairwoman of the organization.
On Wednesday, the West Virginia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released the 2020 Report Card for West Virginia’s Infrastructure, the Section’s inaugural report card. West Virginia civil engineers gave five categories of infrastructure an overall grade of a ‘D,’ meaning the state’s infrastructure is in poor condition, with many elements approaching the end of their service life. Civil engineers graded bridges (D+), dams (D), drinking water (D), roads (D+) and wastewater (D). Event speakers from ASCE included Rodney Holbert P.E., P.S., M.ASCE, Tabitha Lafferre E.I., M.ASCE, and Dave Meadows P.E., P.S., F.ASCE. Also providing insights on “building a better West Virginia” and drawing from decades of engineering experience was Mr. Mike Clowser, Executive Director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia.
The Contractors Association of West Virginia Scholarship Foundation has awarded scholarships to four Fairmont State University students pursing an education and career in construction or engineering. Recipients were selected based on their academic performance, extracurricular activities, work experience, financial need and an interest in a construction industry career. “The CAWV scholarship makes a huge impact on all the students who have had the honor of applying,” Glover, a Civil Engineering student, said. “It is not only a wonderful opportunity to work on interviewing skills and professionalism, but it also allows us to network with those in the field who have many years of valuable experience for us to learn from.”
Planning is key in the construction industry, but there wasn’t a blueprint for handling the impact of the coronavirus. On March 24, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued the statewide stay-at-home order. Justice deemed construction as one of the select occupations considered essential during the ongoing pandemic. That designation, however, didn’t address the concerns and questions about how the industry would function during the pandemic. From digitizing some blueprints for use on iPads to cleaning tools after each use, the Contractors Association of West Virginia has made adjustments to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, said Mike Clowser, the organization’s executive director.
Contractors Association of West Virginia members are doing their part to protect their workers and the public now that the coronavirus has introduced unprecedented challenges in our everyday work and personal lives. Ever since Gov. Jim Justice identified construction as one of the sectors allowed to continue operating in order to keep West Virginia’s economy strong, CAWV members have created comprehensive new safety plans to change the way construction operates in order to maintain that commitment to safety. (The CAWV ran an ad in the 6/8/20 issue of The State Journal.)
The Contractors Association of West Virginia Scholarship Foundation awarded $17,500 this year to West Virginia college students pursuing an education and career in construction or engineering, the association recently announced in a news release. Recipients were selected based on their academic performance, extracurricular activities, work experience, financial need and an interest in a construction industry career. Eligible schools include West Virginia University, West Virginia University Institute of Technology, Marshall University, Fairmont State University and Bluefield State College.
Planning is key in the construction industry — but there wasn’t a blueprint for handling the impact of the coronavirus. On March 24, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued the statewide stay-at-home order. Justice deemed construction as one of the select occupations considered essential during the ongoing pandemic. That designation, however, didn't address the concerns and questions about how the industry would function during the pandemic. From digitizing some blueprints for use on iPads to cleaning tools after each use, the Contractors Association of West Virginia has made adjustments to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, said Mike Clowser, the organization’s executive director.
Members of the Contractors Association of West Virginia (CAWV), along with hundreds of construction firms across the country, stopped work Thursday, April 9, to participate in a nationwide safety stand-down focusing on ways to protect construction workers and the public from the spread of coronavirus. The safety stand-down was organized by the Associated General Contractors of America and was designed to make sure industry professionals are taking measures outlined by public health and safety officials.
West Virginia’s construction industry continues to be among the most robust in the nation, with consistent additions of jobs over the last 12 months, according to data from the Associated General Contractors of America. Between April 2018 and April 2019, West Virginia added the highest percentage of construction jobs in the nation, with an overall increase of 33.7 percent, or approximately 12,200 jobs. The numbers show a persistent need for qualified, well-trained workers, said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association.Michael Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, said the state’s construction industry is one of the most vital components of West Virginia’s multi-faceted economy.
Construction activity whether it’s a new project, an expansion of an existing one or the revitalization of an historic structure brings with it the promise of employment, investment and other economic benefits. While overall employment numbers give an indication of the construction industry’s outlook, they don’t show how large an impact construction employment has throughout the economy, said Roger Thomas, president of the Contractors Association of West Virginia.
It's not very often that a state can go from last to first in any category without first undergoing years of struggle and clawing its way to the top; however, this is exactly what West Virginia did when it created an astounding number of construction jobs in 2017. From January to December of 2017, construction jobs in West Virginia jumped by 4,300, an increase of more than 14 percent, making it the highest growth in the country, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of U.S Department of Labor. Many with a stake in the construction business are working to ensure this momentum does not fade by pushing for investments in infrastructure to entice existing businesses to grow as well as new businesses to relocate to the Mountain State, while also encouraging more training in the construction field to school-age children in order to build a large workforce, which is already needed. One of those individuals striking for this is Mike Clowser, the executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, which serves the interest of contractors who perform commercial building, utility, industrial, highway and heavy construction throughout the state of West Virginia.
“We could go to work next week.” That’s what Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, is saying about Governor Jim Justice’s new plans to pool money from a number of sources to fund secondary roads maintenance. “One of our members, they’re opening their asphalt plant Monday,” Clowser said on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” The majority of asphalt plants, he predicted, would be operating within the next two weeks.
HB 2829 proposes to end the severance tax on limestone and sandstone on July 1. Members passed it unanimously and sent it to the floor. Mike Clowser, with the Contractors Association of West Virginia, told the members that the tax has been an issue for close to a decade, but this is the first bill to address it. The chief problem, he said, is that the tax isn’t uniform. And Deputy Tax Commissioner Lydia McKee confirmed that. The tax, they said, is based on the value of the stone, which is determined by production costs.
Just last week, Justice took time to tout recent good news: West Virginia was No. 1 in construction job growth (per capita), meaning that our percentage of job growth was even higher than California. That comes just two years removed from when West Virginia was — yes, No. 50. And that’s before Justice’s main jobs booster — the road bond projects — break ground with even more construction-related jobs. The reason for the increase: Growth in North Central West Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle, as well as rebuilding efforts following the devastating floods in Southern West Virginia. That’s according to Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, who told The State Journal that growth in the Clarksburg-Bridgeport and Morgantown areas was a driving factor. He also credited the Proctor & Gamble plant project in Berkeley County. Justice also said that construction crews are already being hired for road projects and that will ramp up in the near future, with projections calling for more than 40,000 new jobs.
Governor Jim Justice held a press conference March 22 at WV EXPO to announce AGC of America’s figures that show West Virginia ranked first in the nation in adding the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year.
Gov. Jim Justice is tired of reading about West Virginia’s economic comeback in Forbes magazine and the Wall Street Journal. “Two years ago, as far as the Department of Labor data, West Virginia was ranked 50th in new construction jobs,” Justice said. “Now we’re first.” Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, said some of those construction jobs came from rebuilding efforts following June 2016 floods that killed 23 people and destroyed or damaged thousands of homes and businesses around the state.
West Virginia celebrated nation-leading job growth in the construction industry this week, and close observers believe even better days are ahead. “It is legitimate improvement. It really is legitimate improvement,” said Brian Lego, economic forecaster at West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Gov. Jim Justice touted West Virginia’s growth in construction activity during an appearance at the West Virginia Construction and Design Expo.
The numbers from the Associated General Contractors of America show that West Virginia added the highest percentage of new construction jobs over the last year at more than 14% or 4,300 jobs. The Governor says now the state is looking for even more workers. "We're not looking for a few people, we're looking for a lot of people," added Governor Justice. Mike Clowser, Executive Director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, says the numbers will continue to grow and the need for workers is statewide.
Gov. Jim Justice touted an analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data Thursday that shows West Virginia hosted the highest percentage of new construction jobs in the nation in 2017. Speaking at the West Virginia Construction and Design Expo at the Charleston Civic Center, Governor Jim Justice said the analysis, conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America, shows the construction sector added 4,300 new jobs in the state last year, a 14.4 percent increase. “We’re just on the springboard and we’re ready to launch into the pool with the god-awfulest cannonball you’ve ever seen in your life,” Justice said.
Thousands of jobs are expected to be created in the highway construction industry in West Virginia this year due in large part to the funds created by the Roads to Prosperity Bond passed by voters last fall. Hundreds seeking those jobs participated at the Construction Trades Job Fair at BridgeValley Community & Technical College in South Charleston on Friday. More than 50 organizations and potential employers were present to speak with job seekers. “We want to maximize their abilities to land a career in the construction industry,” said Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractor’s Association of West Virginia.
Some of the first benefits of last year’s vote in favor of a huge road bond for West Virginia will start to be realized in the days to come. The West Virginia Contractors Association has teamed with Workforce West Virginia and other organizations to stage a job fair Friday at Bridge Valley Community and Technical College in South Charleston. “We’ll give people an opportunity to talk to contractors, engineers, and suppliers about opportunities and qualifications,” said Mike Clowser, with the Contractors Association of West Virginia. “Workforce West Virginia will be there to help people with resumes, interviewing skills and so forth.”
The West Virginia Department of Transportation next week will hold a job fair in anticipation of the road projects financed by the $1.6 billion bond approved in November. The job fair will be held 10 a.m. Feb. 16 at the Bridge Valley Community and Technical Center in Charleston. The fair is hosted by the transportation department and the Contractors Association of West Virginia.
As Charleston elects its first new mayor in nearly 16 years this year, it will also replace some long-serving City Council members.Council President Tom Lane, the council’s longest-serving member, will not seek re-election. Neither will Mary Jean Davis, Rev. James Ealy, Jerry Ware, Susie Salisbury, Mike Clowser or Jack Harrison. Councilman Andy Richardson is running for mayor rather than seeking re-election. Clowser, the director of the Contractors of Association of West Virginia, said he wants to see new people and ideas get involved with city government.
Upcoming highway projects and opportunities in the energy sector have the potential to create many jobs and economic opportunities throughout the state, officials said. A job fair will be held Feb. 16 by the Contractors Association of West Virginia at Bridge Valley Community and Technical College in Charleston.
Highways officials, contractors and trade association representatives can’t say exactly how many jobs will be created by Gov. Jim Justice’s almost $3 billion road construction program. But they insist they want as many of the jobs to go to West Virginians as possible. State Highways Commissioner Tom Smith, Contractors Association of West Virginia Director Mike Clowser and Affiliated Construction Trades Director Steve White held a panel discussion on the status of the road projects Thursday at a symposium hosted by the West Virginia Press Association.
West Virginians can start looking for both orange barrels and jobs in February, according to the West Virginia Department of Transportation. “Feb. 16, starting at 10 a.m. at the BridgeValley Community and Technical Center (in Charleston, W.Va.), there is going to be a big job fair,” Smith said, explaining the WVDOT and Contractors Association of West Virginia are hosting the event to hire people to work with the contractors across the state.
The 7th annual West Virginians for Better Transportation Rally held Friday at the state capitol was much different than the previous six because of what happened last October in the Mountain State. Residents approved a $2.8 billion road bond amendment in a statewide vote. Contractors Association of West Virginia Executive Director Mike Clowser said that brings certainty.
A year ago, members of the advocacy group West Virginians for Better Transportation were standing near the steps of the House of Delegates calling for the state to do something about the deplorable condition of West Virginia’s crumbling roads. On Friday, they were celebrating a nearly $3 billion road construction program begun under the administration of Gov. Jim Justice.
A successful road bond election and permits for two major interstate natural gas pipelines can brighten the outlook of people in the construction business. “It’s a lot more optimistic today than it was this time last year,” said Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia. The most recent economic outlook prepared by West Virginia University predicts a good year for the northern part of the state in 2018 but not so much good news in the south.
Governor Jim Justice was asked repeatedly during his campaign in support of the road bond whether the jobs created would go to West Virginians. Each time he answered that he would do everything possible to ensure that West Virginians were given priority in hiring for the dozens of road and bridge construction projects. Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, said, “The bill will put more emphasis on contractors to hire local workers.”“The CAWV will also be notifying all bidders on future WVDOH projects of the new requirements prior to the bid opening so bidders know of the Jobs Act requirements,” Clowser said.
As West Virginia prepares to spend millions of dollars on highways construction, Gov. Jim Justice says he wants to handle the spending carefully and ensure the hiring of as many West Virginians as possible. The Contractors Association of West Virginia is interested in making sure local firms are able to bid competitively on the work. “How do we maximize these projects to make sure we create a lot of opportunities for West Virginia firms?” asked Mike Clowser, executive director of the contractors association. “That includes breaking up the contracts into small enough pieces.”
As the campaign for the road bond referendum winds down, proponents of the Roads to Prosperity 2017 amendment are hopeful that a healthy turnout Saturday will help lead to passage of the $1.6 billion bond plan. “If everyone who says they’re supporting the bond issue votes, it will be a landslide in support of the amendment,” said Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia. “The key is, who will actually go out and vote on Saturday.”
During the 2017 Regular Session, the West Virginia Legislature enacted a law that affects virtually every contractor doing business with the State of West Virginia. House Bill 2001, which concerns the West Virginia Ethics Commission, went into effect July 7. As part of that law, state agencies are now prohibited from entering into a contract, or a series of related contracts, having an actual or estimated value of $100,000.00 or more until the contractor fills out a “Disclosure of Interested Parties to Contracts” form and submits it to the state agency. (Article by Gene Bailey, II and Carl Fletcher Junior, Hendrickson & Long, PLLC and written exclusively for the May/June 2017 issue of West Virginia Construction News, the official magazine of the Contractors Association of West Virginia.)
With the clock ticking down to the Sept. 22 start of early voting, proponents of the road bond amendment are hastily assembling a campaign to encourage voters to support the bond referendum election on Oct 7.“Obviously, it’s a late start,” said Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia. “A bunch of us just kind of came together to try to develop a plan and are trying hard to raise some money to get a message out.”
State Transportation Secretary Tom Smith says there will be two waves of repaving projects getting started in the coming weeks in the Mountain State. Smith met with contractors Tuesday in Charleston, members of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, detailing plans on how the DOH is looking to spend up to $140 million available in the next year following tax and fee increases approved by the legislature and signed into law by the governor.
Gov. Jim Justice’s road-building initiative will roll out in multiple phases, like waves hitting a beach, state Transportation Secretary Tom Smith told dozens of contractors in Charleston on Tuesday. “We are having these projects go out the door as quickly as we can, in continuous waves,” Smith said during a forum sponsored by the Contractors Association of West Virginia. “Twenty years from now, people will still be talking about what was accomplished in 2017 with the roads program.”
Improvements to West Virginia roads could begin at the start of July, even as the state prepares for a multi-billion-dollar bond vote, the state Transportation Secretary said today.Road improvement bills passed by the state Legislature last week will provide a boost of additional revenue starting July 1, state Transportation Secretary Tom Smith said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”A successful bond vote would provide funding for new projects over nearly a decade as bonds are sold, said Mike Clowser, director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia.
West Virginia is finally going to #FTDR (Fix the Damn Roads). The highway plans were nearly lost in all the debate and consternation about the budget, but lawmakers did pass several proposals that, if approved by the Governor, will trigger a massive highway construction and maintenance program for the state. Collectively, these measures will raise about $130 million in additional dollars every year for road work.The Contractors Association of West Virginia estimates the average motorist will pay about another $55 a year with these changes.
The Legislature resumes a special at the state Capitol Monday to again try and come to an agreement on a budget for the coming fiscal year that begins on July 1. The resumption of the special session follows continued negotiations between Governor Jim Justice and legislative leaders this week. The goal is a budget agreement for fiscal 2018, but there are many different components, including a couple of roads bills. According to TRIP, a private, nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic data on transportation, 17 percent of West Virginia’s bridges are structurally deficient and traffic congestion cost drivers $225 million dollars a year in fuel and wasted time. Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, sees roads as an issue people on both sides of the aisle can agree on.
With jobs in construction, mining and logging in the Charleston area at the lowest levels since 1990, representatives of the Contractors Association of West Virginia and Associated General Contractors of America joined with Cabinet Secretary Thomas Smith, head of the W.Va. Department of Transportation, Wednesday to call for support of state spending on road, bridge and infrastructure projects. Speaking from the Governor’s Conference Room at the West Virginia Capitol, Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, introduces Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, center, who joined with Clowser and Cabinet Secretary Thomas Smith, at right, head of the W.Va. Department of Transportation, to discuss jobs and the state budget.
A national contractors group voiced its support for Gov. Jim Justice’s proposed infrastructure plan Wednesday, saying it would create jobs in an area seeing one of the sharpest declines in construction jobs nationwide. “Proposals like the governor’s will bring more workers into the economy,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist of the Associated General Contractors of America, in an announcement at the state Capitol about Charleston’s construction job losses. “Without increased funding, West Virginia infrastructure will continue to crumble and jobs will disappear.” The group’s state chapter, the Contractors Association of West Virginia, is gathering support to get Justice’s plan implemented, Simonson said.
The latest push for increased spending on West Virginia highway construction is focused on economics. The state Division of Transportation and the Contractors Association of West Virginia were among those at a Wednesday presentation at the state Capitol focusing on potential economic benefits of infrastructure investments. The main message came from Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, a national association for the construction industry.
Local and national contractors are urging the adoption of a $2.8 billion road and infrastructure program proposed by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice to fix the state’s crumbling bridges and roads and put state residents to work. Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, hosted a news conference Wednesday, May 31 with state Transportation Secretary Tom Smith and members of the Contractors Association of West Virginia to talk about recent losses in construction jobs and the need to get construction workers back on the job.
The Charleston area has lost construction jobs at the second-fastest rate in the nation according to a survey from the Associated General Contractors of America. A representative of the national group presented the results of the survey of 358 metro areas at the Capitol Wednesday, accompanied by West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Smith. AGCA Chief Economist Ken Simonson said the Charleston metro area lost about 1,200 construction jobs between April 2016 and April 2017, a 16 percent decrease. The Contractors Association of West Virginia is affiliated with the AGCA and has been lobbying lawmakers to approve the tax and fee increases to fund the road bond.
As West Virginia considers whether to raise fuel taxes and DMV fees to pay for highways improvements, it’s not the only state to do so.Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican, sought and got legislative approval of a gas tax increase of 6 cents over three years to pay for longstanding transportation needs. Various fees on motor vehicles also would go up. (Contractors Association of West Virginia)
Over the last five years, there have been nearly 2,000 work zone crashes in West Virginia. “Over that five year period, we’ve had 15 fatalities. It’s just completely unacceptable. We have to do better,” said state Transportation Secretary Tom Smith. The state Division of Highways is working with State Police, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and the Contractors Association of West Virginia to reduce work zone crashes. Representatives from those organizations kicked off the state’s Work Zone Safety campaign Wednesday morning at the state Capitol. The message this construction season, again, is “Just. Slow Down.”
The attempt this legislative session to provide funding for major highway maintenance and construction has hit a significant pothole. This week, two road funding bills that passed the Senate died in the House. The House Finance Committee failed to take up SB 477 that would have added 4.5 cents a gallon to the state’s gasoline tax (raising it to 25 cents a gallon) and would have increased DMV fees from $30 to $50. The committee also left off the agenda SB 482 which would have raised tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike. The Governor wanted to pass the tax increases and then go to the voters with the bond. Supporters of the Governor’s plan, including the Contractors Association of West Virginia, believe going to the voters first is a recipe for failure.
Three Fairmont State University students were among those who received scholarships from the Contractors Association of West Virginia (CAWV) Scholarship Foundation. Kathleen McDiffit, Ben Costello and Michael Daetwyler, students in FSU’s College of Science and Technology, received scholarships during the CAWV’s State Meeting, held March 22, during the West Virginia Construction and Design EXPO in Charleston.
Gov. Jim Justice gathered about two dozen senior officials from business, labor, education and nonprofits Monday to show the support he has for this budget plan. Some of the governor’s remarks were a repeat of speeches he has recently given while trying to persuade legislators to abandon the Republican leadership’s budget plan and support his. But there were some new developments. Justice said the gap between his proposed combination of revenue increases and budget cuts and that of the Republicans’ has increased. Gov. Jim Justice spoke during his budget summit Monday with more than 20 state leaders, including Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts, AFL-CIO President Josh Sword and Mike Clowser, Executive Director, Contractors Association of West Virginia.
With five days left in the West Virginia Legislature’s 2017 session, the moves are accelerating in the chess match that is the state budget process, with all indications at the moment that the game will end in a stalemate. The Senate, in Finance Committee on Monday, unveiled a 2017-18 state budget plan that does not raise any taxes, but makes major cuts to public education, higher education, and health care programs to cut spending to $4.102 billion, a reduction of more than $160 million from the current general revenue budget, and about $340 million less than the governor’s budget proposal. Gov. Jim Justice spoke during his budget summit Monday with more than 20 state leaders, including Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts, AFL-CIO President Josh Sword and Mike Clowser, Executive Director, Contractors Association of West Virginia.
The state’s gasoline tax would go up 4.5 cents a gallon and the annual DMV vehicle registration fee would cost $20 more in a bill that passed the state Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Tuesday. Contractors Association of West Virginia Executive Director Mike Clowser told the committee some of the fees haven’t been updated since the 1970’s and he believes West Virginians can afford it.
The Senate’s Transportation Committee has voted to advance a bill that would hike some taxes and fees to help increase funding for the state’s roadways. The bill was presented to lawmakers by Gov. Jim Justice, but is not part of his plan to generate more than $1 billion in revenues for a bond initiative. "All of those fees that you have before you in Senate Bill 477, that's in total about $90 a year," Mike Clowser with the Contractors Association of West Virginia told the committee. "That is less than 25 cents a day in what it costs the average West Virginian.”
A report released Thursday from national transportation research group, TRIP, states West Virginia's roadways and bridges are fifth worst in the nation. In 2015 the Mountain State ranked eighth. The report says the deficient roadways costs West Virginia drivers $1.4 billion annually. "The report was a very sobering report. It says we have tremendous needs in our highways, we have tremendous needs in our bridges," said Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia.
A big push for Gov. Jim Justice’s ambitious infrastructure plan has been underway at the state Capitol. Today, the new state Transportation secretary and advocates for infrastructure projects gathered to tout a report that spotlights West Virginia’s crumbling highways and bridges. The ambition and discussion are good signs of momentum, said Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia. “We are glad that people are talking about infrastructure,” Clowser said. “We are glad people are talking about highways. Today’s report was a very sobering report.
A national research group says the deficiencies, congestion, and lack of safety features on West Virginia’s roadways are costing drivers in the state more than a billion dollars every year. The report, released at the Capitol Thursday by TRIP, a national transportation research group based in D.C., says each year, West Virginia drivers pay an additional $1.4 billion in vehicle maintenance, the cost of traffic accidents, and wasted gasoline and time because of the poor condition of the state’s roads. They were invited to Charleston to present their latest report by the Contractors Association of West Virginia, a lobbying group that works to promote the interests of the construction industry in the state.
Several times over the past few months, Jim Justice has talked about gathering a pot of millions of West Virginia dollars, leveraging it through investment firms and coming out on the other side with more than a billion dollars to be used for investment. But the governor has not yet specified the source of the initial investment or what indebtedness might result. He has also switched from saying his plan might be a way to patch the budget gap of an estimated $500 million to saying the resulting money could pay for billions of dollars in infrastructure spending. That sounds good to Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia. But like everyone else, Clowser is waiting to hear more from the governor.
Gov. Jim Justice’s proposal to sell $1.4 billion or more in bonds to fund highways and infrastructure projects reached a receptive audience in West Virginia. Contractors Association of West Virginia Executive Director Mike Clowser said, “It sounds like he is making an investment in infrastructure a priority, not only for jobs but for the economy.”
Although not a surprise, it was still encouraging to learn last week that incoming West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is committed to continuing an ambitious economic development project that was started by his predecessor, Earl Ray Tomblin. Questions were raised about whether that project was being moved ahead of other highway work that had been scheduled for years. The project also was receiving pushback from the Contractors Association of West Virginia, which said it couldn't back the project because the state has so many other highway needs.
Acting West Virginia Division of Highways engineer Greg Bailey assured legislators Tuesday that the access road to the Rock Creek Development Park, in Boone County, didn’t “jump” other pending highway projects on priority lists. Meanwhile, Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, reiterated that group’s refusal to support the project, saying it sends the wrong message at a time when the state needs anywhere from $750 million to $1.3 billion a year in additional funding to complete and adequately maintain the state road system.
West Virginia’s gasoline tax drops by another penny to 32.2 cents a gallon today, and that isn’t especially good news for the state’s roads. As the price of gas has gone down and as many consumers driving more fuel-efficient cars buy less gasoline in the first place, West Virginia’s fuel tax isn’t exactly going the extra mile. Because of the multi-year downward trend, the Road Fund will be down $49 million compared to three years ago. “That would have fixed a lot of bridges, paved a lot of roads,” said Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia.
Everyone likes paying less in taxes, so in that vein, the news that the state motor fuel tax will drop by 1 cent Jan. 1 is good, bringing savings to drivers across West Virginia. The bad news is the reduction will hit an already underfunded state highway system that can’t keep up with maintenance and repair of bridges and roadways as it is.
It took an army of volunteers to build Kanawha State Forest’s Spotted Salamander Trail back in 1986, when the paved, wheelchair-accessible, quarter-mile loop trail, studded with signs describing the plant and animal life it passed, was virtually completed. The trial was the first of its kind in the region, though it wasn’t officially dedicated until the following year. Nearly two dozen members of the Contractors Association of West Virginia’s Young Contractors Forum were installing signposts
Everyone likes paying less in taxes, so in that vein, the news that the state motor fuel tax will drop by 1 cent Jan. 1 is good, bringing savings to drivers across West Virginia. The bad news is the reduction will hit an already underfunded state highway system that can’t keep up with maintenance and repair of bridges and roadways as it is.
Representatives with the state Division of Highways will be in Boone County to talk about the details of the proposed 2.6 mile access road designed to link Route 119 directly to the former Hobet Mine property, a reclaimed mine site. The article notes the Contractors Association of West Virginia has publicly opposed the Hobet road plan.
The Contractors Association of West Virginia opposes Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s plan to spend $100 million to build over a 2.5 mile four-lane roadway at the reclaimed Hobet mine site in Boone County, the association recently announced in a news release. The association said it opposes the project until new sources of funding are made available to repair and maintain state highways and bridges. “The CAWV is keenly aware that a good infrastructure of highways, adequate water and wastewater systems and suitable sites available for commercial and industrial development are vital to economic development and job creation,” said CAWV Executive Director Mike Clowser. “Our association is probably one of the biggest proponents of the ‘build it and they will come’ strategy, but we cannot support diverting money from an already distressed State Road Fund to build this project,” he said.
The Contractors Association of West Virginia has come out sharply against Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s signature plan to spend an estimated $99.8 million to build a 2.6-mile highway to the reclaimed Hobet surface mine in Boone County. The association recently issued a news release, saying it could not support the project at a time when the governor’s own Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways has found that an additional $750 million a year is needed just to maintain the existing highway system.
Repairs to the Public Service Commission Building was the subject of a Charleston TV station’s Waste Watch segment titled “Costly State Construction Projects.” WCHS-TV reporter Kennie Bass questioned whether the state’s 10 year statute of limitation statute was beneficial to taxpayers since the PSC building’s defects were found nearly 30 years after its completion. CAWV Executive Director Mike Clowser was interviewed and noted that this was a rare and unique situation and that current laws provide protection to public agencies and taxpayers, therefore validating the need keep the current statute of limitation law in effect…
One rating agency has already downgraded the state’s bond rating, based on the downturn in the global energy market, and officials have advised the other Wall Street rating houses are awaiting the outcome of the special session on the budget to determine whether to also impose downgrades. So what happens if West Virginia’s bond ratings are downgraded? Drop in West Virginia bond rating could raise interest rates for state agencies such as Division of Highways, School Building Authority, for counties, municipalities and Public Service Districts, which means less money for construction projects... (Contractors Association of West Virginia)
House Finance Committee Chair Eric Nelson pulled a highway funding bill (SB555) from his committee’s agenda Tuesday morning saying there’s not support for it. The bill would raise taxes and fees to generate more than $200 million a year to go toward repairs of the state’s roads and bridges. Despite Nelson’s actions, one bill supporter believes there’s still time for the legislature to pass the bill before the Saturday night end of the 60-day regular session. Contractors Association of West Virginia Executive Director Mike Clowser told MetroNews after the finance committee meeting the bill is still “very much alive.”
Legislation to increase highway funding in West Virginia by more than $290 million a year — primarily through increasing the state sales tax from 6% to 7% — is headed to the state’s House of Delegates that has proven adverse to tax hikes. However, Mike Clowser, of the Contractors Association of West Virginia and a member of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways, said March 2 that he’s hopeful the House will accept at least a portion of that increase to help fix the state’s deteriorating roads.
The next year could have mixed results for construction companies in the Mountain State, with federal funding providing some relief as local and state spending is expected to contract. The approval of the first multi-year federal highway spending bill in a decade could finally provide some long term stability for the planning of roads, bridges and highways in West Virginia. But while the 5-year, $305 billion federal plan would provide some market stability for construction companies, Mike Clowser, the executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, said it does little to actually boost spending for transportation projects.
West Virginia residents are fed up with the condition of the state’s roads according to the top man with the group which builds most of them. “I think people are realizing today the situation of our roads and the situation of our bridges,” said Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia in an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” Wednesday. “A report came out this week that says West Virginia has gone from the 14th worst bridges in the nation to 8th in a two-year period.”
Monday’s Transportation Day at the state legislature addressed concerns about the dire condition of the Mountain State’s roads. State legislators in both the House and Senate promised to do something in front of West Virginians for Better Transportation, a coalition that holds the Transportation Day event each year. “People are finally realizing that one, we’re paying a lot more for operator vehicles because of bad roads,” explained Contractors Association of West Virginia executive director Mike Clowser. “Secondly, because of the situation in the state of West Virginia with our budget and with our employment, I think people finally look the nexus between good roads and jobs.”
Rains have fallen steadily on North Central West Virginia for over a month, washing many dollars away from the local economy as much of the terrain lies drenched. The National Weather Service reports the region has seen more than six inches of rainfall above normal since the end of March, with one inch coming in the first week of July alone. Work done outdoors is vital to many aspects of the state’s economy, but the number of rain-free days has been in short supply this year. “It is (the rain) having a tremendous effect on contractors and construction projects,” said Executive Director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, Mike Clowser.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and several state organizations will host a town hall meeting in Putnam County next week to discuss the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule regulating local waterways and his office’s legal challenge to it. The town hall meeting will begin at 7 p.m. July 7, at the Putnam County Courthouse, 12093 Winfield Road, in Winfield. The public is invited to attend. In addition to Morrisey, several local business leaders and representatives from the Contractors Association of West Virginia, West Virginia Business and Industry Council, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Associated Builders and Contractors of West Virginia, West Virginia Coal Association, West Virginia Farm Bureau, and West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association will discuss the potential effects this rule could have on local landowners.
In just one year, West Virginia experienced massive job loss in the construction industry. A study shows that West Virginia lost 4,400 workers and the Executive Director for Contractors Association of West Virginia says this decline has been going on for 18 months. The main explanation for construction job loss is credited back to the infrastructure and our state's lack of funding for highways. But, an expert economist says some areas as well as certain sectors of construction are doing better.
West Virginia lost 4,400 construction jobs between Apr. 2014 and April of this year, according to the most recent numbers from the Associated General Contractors of America — more than anywhere else in the United States. “Not only has West Virginia had the largest percentage decline, but we have also had the largest total job loss in the nation,” Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, said of the numbers.
A national contractors group said last week that West Virginia lost a bigger percentage of its construction jobs between April 2014 and April 2015 than any other state. Construction employment in West Virginia dropped by 4,400 workers during those months, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. A few months ago, the group made a similar assertion about jobs between November 2013 and November 2014. “I don’t think we’ve ever had the largest total of construction jobs lost [before this latest report]. We had not only the biggest percentage drop, but the biggest drop in the number of workers,” said Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia.
Kalee Murphy, a civil engineering technology student at Fairmont State University, is the recipient of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, CAWV, Scholarship Foundation's $5,000 scholarship award for 2015. Murphy is president of the university's American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter, member of the concrete canoe team and completed a 2014 summer internship with the West Virginia Division of Highways. This year, the association has distributed $16,000 to West Virginia college students pursuing education and careers in construction or engineering. Academic performance, extracurricular activities, work experience, financial need and interest in a construction industry career are the criteria recipients are selected by.
West Virginia construction contractors suffered through a rough 2014 and the outlook for 2015 so far doesn’t look so good. In its latest edition of West Virginia Construction News, the Contractors Association of West Virginia released survey results from state highways contractors — which account for a large portion of the state’s construction jobs — that indicated more firms plan to lay off workers this year than hire new ones.
The 36th annual West Virginia Construction and Design Exposition kicked off Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center. EXPO, as it is known, is sponsored by the Contractors Association of West Virginia and is the largest construction and design show in the region. More than 5,000 engineering, construction and public works representatives from businesses and organizations in more than 30 states were expected to gather at this year’s event…
The annual West Virginia Construction and Design Exposition later this month will celebrate the past and future. This year’s conference, which organizers say is the largest gathering yet, will combine the Marcellus to Manufacturing Conference and the annual meeting of the West Virginia Manufacturing Association, marking its 100th year. The Construction and Design Expo, sponsored by the Contractors Association of West Virginia, always marks the coming trends in industry, said show manager Cassidy Webb.
Better roads would pave the way for a stimulated economy in West Virginia, officials said during a press conference March 3 at the state Capitol hosted by the Contractors Association of West Virginia. The association revealed the findings of a report conducted by The American Road and Transportation Builders Association. The report suggests a $500 million increase in West Virginia's highway and bridge improvement program, sustained annually, would generate $994.5 million in economic growth and support or create 9,630 jobs.
The Contractors Association of West Virginia released a report Tuesday that it says shows the benefits of having an additional $500 million annually in highway funding. CAWV Executive Director Mike Clowser said even though they are investing in highway and bridge construction, the benefits elsewhere and throughout the state would be great. Clowser said he’s hoping the state can produce the annual $500 million.
NEW CAWV AD FEATURED ON THE DON NEHLEN AND BOB PRUETT SHOW
A new CAWV ad will begin airing on Monday, September 29, on The Don Nehlan and Bob Pruett Show. The thirty second ad targets listeners, who like so many, may take West Virginia’s transportation system for granted and stresses the importance to “Keep West Virginia Moving” for generations to come. The show airs from 7:06 to 8:00 p.m. each Monday through November 25 on MetroNews affiliates across the state.
Lackluster construction outlook predicted
By Cecelia Mason
January 14, 2013 · The outlook for the construction industry looks like it’s improving somewhat according to a new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America but in West Virginia the industry continues to be relatively flat.
During a telephone news conference, the Association's Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Sandherr, said more construction firms are planning to add staff than layoff. The Associated General Contractors of America surveyed more than 1,300 firms in 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and nine percent plan layoffs while 31 percent plan to hire more workers.
“However the scope of these additions is likely to be modest with 79 percent of firms reporting that they plan to hire 15 or fewer people and only 13 percent planning to hire more than 25 new workers in the new year,”Sandherr said.
The Contractors Association of West Virginia has 475 member firms. Mike Clowser, executive director, said the construction industry has taken a hit in recent years.
“West Virginia’s construction employment in November 2012 was 36,000 West Virginians. That is down 11 percent from its peak in August of 2006,” Clowser said. “Total construction dropped 33 percent from nearly three billion in 2009 to two billion in 2011.”
Clowser said the construction industry continues to shed jobs and the West Virginia companies that responded to the survey indicate they expect the number of job opportunities to remain at about the same level this year as last year.
According to Clowser the number of construction projects paid for by the private sector remains flat. The construction industry is heavily dependent on federal and state spending for highways and Congress just extended the federal aid highway bill through October 2014.
“Those numbers and available dollars are basically flat and are projected to stay flat,” Clowser said. “Our state highway program which is mostly made up of gasoline taxes and other user fees; those are remaining flat and are actually stagnant.”
Clowser said unless more money becomes available, fewer roads and bridges will be repaired and not as many new ones will be built. But he pointed out that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has put together a blue ribbon panel to come up with solutions to the problem of paying for highway projects.
Two other areas the construction industry depends on are water and sewer systems and schools. Clowser said Congress has failed so far to renew the Federal Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, which pay for many water and sewer projects. But Clowser said money from the state Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council and Water Development Authority and local fees have remained available for some projects.
The Eastern Panhandle was hit hard by the downturn in the housing market, which offered a lot of construction jobs between 2000 and 2005. David Hartley, executive officer for the Eastern Panhandle Homebuilder’sAssociation, said the housing market seems to be picking up a bit.
“We’ve seen permits increase, in Berkeley County for example permits were up in 2012 40 percent from the previous year so that’s been a positive sign,” Hartley said. “We have a long way to go but are encouraged that prices look like they’re starting to improve also that inventory is going down so that you see the mix of things start to show signs of improvement for the housing market specifically.”
Hartley predicted the housing market will gradually improve this year.
Homebuilder’s Association President Greg Janes owns a contracting business and said he’s getting more calls from people interested in remodeling or building new houses.
Janes said if the construction industry picks up, it will lift the rest of the economy.
“If we get to the point where we’re starting to build roads, residential housing or commercial, our economy picks up,” Janes said. “Every house that’s built creates three jobs in our industry, three full time jobs.”
Janes pointed out that bigger construction projects like office buildings, schools and roads could create even more jobs.
CAWV ON WV DIVISION OF HIGHWAYS “WV ON THE DOT”
“WV On the DOT,” a weekly radio show that features speakers, facts and activities relating to the West Virginia Division of Highways, broadcasts every Saturday at 9 a.m. on WCHS Radio 58 in Charleston. WV Secretary of Transportation Paul Mattox joins Randy Damron and Brent Walker of WVDOH’s Communications Division to highlight highway and transportation issues. CAWV Executive Director Mike Clowser joined in on the December 29, 2012 broadcast to discuss highway funding, the close working relationship between the WVDOH and the CAWV, the association’s “Hard at Work” campaign, among other industry issues. To listen to the broadcast, click here
The CAWV promoted the construction industry on WV Radio stations / WV MetroNews during Election Night coverage.
For the past four years or more, the national economy has struggled. The answer from Washington, D.C., is record deficit spending, which has not brought significant job gains.
The answer from Washington, Pa., and thousands of other towns scattered across Appalachia is Marcellus shale gas, which is leading to royalties for landowners, cheap energy for consumers and jobs for the construction industry. A few facts:
· In April 2011, Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania and West Virginia produced 3.6 billion cubic feet of gas a day.
· By last month, that average had more than doubled to 7.4 billion cubic feet a day.
· Marcellus shale now accounts for 25 percent of shale gas production in the nation.
· Marcellus shale will soon surpass the Haynesville region in Arkansas and Texas as the No. 1 field.
· The wholesale price of gas dropped to $3 per thousand cubic feet. In Japan and Europe, the price is $12 or more.
· Shale gas production is responsible for 600,000 jobs nationally.
· By 2035, that figure is expected to hit 1 million.
· Construction jobs in West Virginia rose from 34,100 to 36,700 over the past year after dropping by 1 percent over the previous three years...
In recent months, the Marcellus Shale boom has saved the region's construction industry, a Charleston construction company owner said last week.
"Thank God for that," said John Strickland, president of Maynard C. Smith Construction, referring to the natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation that extends throughout most of West Virginia in addition to Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and other eastern states. "It has put our pipeline contractors to work, our road building contractors to work. That huge private sector has saved our cookies."
Nationwide, the number of construction jobs has dropped in nearly half of the 337 metropolitan areas from June 2011 to June 2012 included in a report released last week by the Associated General Contractors of America...
(Appeared in August 4 WV Gazette)
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In recent months, the Marcellus Shale boom has saved the region's construction industry, a Charleston construction company owner said last week.
"Thank God for that," said John Strickland, president of Maynard C. Smith Construction, referring to the natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation that extends throughout most of West Virginia in addition to Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and other eastern states. "It has put our pipeline contractors to work, our road building contractors to work. That huge private sector has saved our cookies."
Nationwide, the number of construction jobs has dropped in nearly half of the 337 metropolitan areas from June 2011 to June 2012 included in a report released last week by the Associated General Contractors of America.
But construction employment increased in 127 of those metro areas -- including West Virginia overall and the Charleston metro area.
West Virginia's construction employment increased from 34,100 in June 2011 to 36,700 jobs in June 2012. Until this year's boost in construction jobs in the state, West Virginia's construction employment had dropped 19 percent during the three years prior.
Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, said quite a few of the new construction jobs are in the Marcellus Shale industry, especially in the Mountain State.
"A lot of our members are working in the Marcellus Shale industry. Water and sewer contractors are putting in lines, highway contractors are putting in roads, aggregate suppliers are supplying stone to these projects," Clowser said. "We are seeing a pretty good market for our membership that are now working in the oil and gas industry that were not involved in this process five years ago. As such, our members have been able to stay pretty busy."
Shale gas production supported more than 600,000 jobs in 2010, according to "The Economic and Employment Contributions of Shale Gas in the United States," a report by IHS Global Insight. People employed in the shale gas industry will increase by 1 million by 2035, according to the report.
Mark Grigsby, president of Pray Construction, said the Marcellus boom has sent West Virginia workers from his Scott Depot company to complete construction projects in Ohio and Pennsylvania. As a secondary supplier to the natural gas industry, Pray Construction employees are building support structures, he said.
"At least 30 percent of our work volume is tied to the natural gas industry," Grigsby said. "That industry has continued to develop the last several years and we have followed them in the marketplace."
Construction spending rose to a two-and-a-half year high in June 2012, according to new federal data released last week by the AGCA.
Five of the 11 private nonresidential categories in the Census Bureau's monthly construction spending report saw double-digit percentage gains in spending from June 2011 to June 2012, said Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America's chief economist.
Power and energy construction (including oil and gas-related projects) had the largest percentage gain in construction spending from June 2011 to June 2012 with a 26.5 percent increase, according to the AGCA spending report. Lodging had the next biggest percentage gain at 26.3 percent followed by manufacturing at 19 percent; educational at 18.8 percent; and transportation at 17.1 percent.
West Virginia may have the highest hope in private nonresidential construction since spending is up 14 percent, construction economist Simonson said.
"With the fracking in West Virginia and neighboring part of Ohio and Pennsylvania and interest in the chemical companies to put in ethane crackers ... nonresidential could benefit," Simonson said. "I think that's going to provide multiple benefits to construction and other industries in West Virginia."
Drilling wells is considered a mining job, Simonson said, but construction workers are leveling roads and building storage structures, which is adding new jobs in the industry.
Pray Construction has hired new staff in the last year, Grigsby said. Administrative support staff, a project manager, and construction workers have been hired to join the nearly 60 seasonal employees at Pray Construction, he said.
"Our work has not fallen off. We have experienced nothing but increased volume for the past several years," Grigsby said.
The statewide increase in construction jobs is "very positive news that has been well received," in the industry, Grigsby said.
However, Strickland said although he has hired new construction workers at his Charleston business in the past year, the volume of projects is decreasing.
The Charleston metro area saw only a 2 percent increase in construction employment during the past year. While the area -- which includes Kanawha, Putnam, Boone, Clay and Lincoln counties -- did see job growth, the increase is much smaller than last year's 15 percent increase in construction employment, the fifth-highest jump in the nation in 2011.
Industry leaders said last year the 2,300 jobs created in 2011 -- compared to just 300 in the Charleston metro area one year later -- was fueled mostly by publicly funded projects, such as schools, bridge repairs and replacements, water and sewer lines and Yeager Airport renovations.
Many of those projects have since wrapped up, Strickland said.
"In 2011, there was so much demand and so much work and we participated in that. Now that demand has been somewhat faded and we need to move on," Strickland said. "Last year it just seemed like there was a lot of work to bid...the double edge sword was the work dried up."
Strickland said federal funding -- such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- "was a great idea to kill two birds with one stone" but that money is now gone and so are most of the jobs that it created.
Cutbacks in spending on the public and private levels have resulted in reduced construction projects, Clowser said.
AGCA officials said the nearly 50 percent decline in construction jobs nationwide is a result of the public sector continuing to cut back on investments and slow economic growth.
Clowser said there is a direct correlation between the continuing decline in construction jobs and the economy.
"That is a direct result of the economy and if we do not have new investments in construction projects, obviously we are not going to use many construction workers for the work," Clowser said. "We've seen other industries have a recession but the construction industry nationwide has been in a depression. When you invest in infrastructure, not only are you improving the quality of life for all West Virginians, you're creating hundreds of high paying construction jobs."
“No worker should have to worry about safety,” Josh Booth, Highway Safety, Huntington, told reporters and camera crews at a press conference held on May 2. “Building safe and modern roads and bridges increases the safety of the traveling public, but more construction means more exposure for construction workers on the roadways.” Booth told listeners to slow down, put their cell phones down and pay attention. The annual press conference is held throughout the nation to promote work zone safety. This year’s message is “Don’t Barrel Through Work Zones.” Booth, who has been clipped by passing vehicles several times, joined Rick Hazelwood, a WVDOH maintenance employee who was struck by a vehicle in 2009. Hazelwood shared his story of being hit by a distracted driver as a reminder to drivers of the consequence of inattention in work zones. WV Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox reminded the group that starting July 1, texting while driving will become a primary offense. FHWA Division Administrator Tom Smith shared national statistics regarding work zone incidents. Mike Baylous, representing the State Police, noted that speeding in work zones results in high fines. Bob Tipton, Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said, “Our mission is to reduce accidents and injuries on the state’s roads and work zone safety is part of the puzzle.”
Both Hazelwood’s and Booth’s messages are available on WVDOT’s YouTube channel. CAWV Executive Director Mike Clowser and Tipton joined together to film a safety message for “On the DOT,” the division’s television show.
For more information on the press conference, click here to see a Charleston Daily Mail article, or here to view the WV Gazette article. The story was picked up by the Associated Press and ran on most radio and TV stations.
FEDERAL ROAD FUNDS 'CRITICAL' FOR W.VA.
As Congress prepares to debate a highways bill this week, the executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia believes a long-term bill to guarantee federal highway funds is critical to the state's future. "The number one priority in Congress should be to create jobs, to improve road safety and to promote economic development," Clowser said Friday. Federal funds provide the majority of money used to build and maintain the nation's roads and highways.
"On Sunday, it will be 949 days since the last highway bill expired. We have not had a true highway bill since Sept. 30, 2009," Clowser said. "We are working on the ninth or tenth temporary extension. Members of my association are getting so frustrated. This affects our companies and their ability to hire people. The number of road projects the state Division of Highways put out for bids is down 15 percent from last March."
YOUNG CONTRACTORS COMPETE IN CANSTRUCTION
The CAWV Young Contractors participated in the 2012 Canstruction competition which is hosted by the American Institute of Architects - WV Chapter and Covenant House. The group has built a Stop/Slow Paddle and two traffic barrels titled, “STOP Hunger.” The 10 foot tall sign includes nearly 2,000 cans of food and represents our commitment to support our community and its fight against hunger. Coverage of the event appeared in the WV Gazette (click here to view).
TRANSPORTATION DAY AT THE WEST VIRGINIA CAPITOL SHINES SPOTLIGHT ON HIGHWAY INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING
Nearly 200 CAWV members and West Virginians for Better Transportation coalition partners flooded the State Capitol and both the House of Delegate and Senate chambers on Thursday, January 12. The group all wore reflective vests making the message of “Roads = Jobs” visible to lawmakers. The hearing was covered by a variety of news outlets.
TRIP REPORT RANKS WV ROADS 7th WORSE IN THE NATION
According to a recent TRIP report, in 2008, 27 percent of the state’s major rural roads were rated in poor condition, the seventh highest rate in the U.S. An additional 50 percent of major rural roads were rated in mediocre or fair condition. In 2010, 14 percent of West Virginia’s rural bridges were rated as structurally deficient, the seventeenth highest rate in the nation. An additional 21 percent of the state’s rural bridges were functionally obsolete. The full report, “Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland,” is available online using the link above.
AGC JOINS CAWV TO RELEASE NATIONWIDE JOBS DATA - CHARLESTON MSA RANKED 5TH HIGHEST GROWTH
AGC of America came to Charleston on Tuesday to hold a press conference releasing nationwide Metropolitian Statistical Area jobs data. CAWV President Gene Thompson, Ahern, a division of Kokosing, South Charleston, lead a press conference held at the new West Side Elementary School. Project general contractor Mike Davis, vice president of G&G Builders, Inc., Scott Depot, took reporters on a tour of the school.
“Charleston is adding new construction jobs faster than virtually every other metro area as the local industry grew by 15 percent between July 2010 and July 2011,” said President Thompson. “One of the main reasons construction employment is growing in Charleston is because of the public sector investments that are being made at the local, state and federal levels.” CAWV and AGC were joined by Charleston Mayor Danny Jones and School Building Authority Executive Director Dr. Mark Manchin, who discussed the nearly $200 million being spent on school construction in the area and how it impacts the economy. “Every one dollar invested in construction results in three dollars spent in the economy,” Dr. Manchin said.