Constructor Magazine

Inside AGC CEO’s Messages

November/December 2009

Build Now for the Future

AGC issues blueprint for economic growth, educates elected leaders

By Steve Sandherr

Steve Sandherr

Recognizing that contractors nationwide need more than the infrastructure funding included in the stimulus, AGC unveiled a new plan designed to revive our industry, the hardest-hit sector of the economy. The plan, Build Now for the Future: A Blueprint for Economic Growth, is designed to reverse predictions that construction activity will continue to shrink through 2010, crippling broader economic growth.

The mix of new incentives, tax cuts, policy revisions and infrastructure investments outlined in the plan are needed to stem the dramatic decline in construction and employment taking place nationwide.

AGC unveiled the plan in September during a news conference at a stalled construction site in Sparks, Nev., a city that lost 35% of its construction workforce. The news was covered widely—by the Associated Press, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Miami Herald, Reno Gazette-Journal and San Antonio Express News, to name a few. Local television stations covered the event as well.

Our hope, of course, is that the plan we created continues to attract attention nationwide while we show the benefits of investing in infrastructure. While we would all like to see stimulus funds going out at an even faster clip, there is no doubt the stimulus is showing the nation that investing in construction can support jobs while improving our infrastructure.

However, federal employment data still indicates that construction workers are among the most affected by the recession. As we made clear in the plan, while the nation suffers through a recession, the construction industry is suffering Depression-like conditions.

AGC has long been at work on Capitol Hill informing our legislators that investment in construction has great benefits for the broader economy, but when the construction sector is hurting, so too does the rest of America. That’s because construction spending represents 8% of the nation’s GDP. With manufacturers shipping $520 billion in construction materials and supplies and $30 billion in new equipment in 2008, it’s easy to see how the industry drives the broader economy.

“While the nation suffers through a recession, the construction industry is suffering Depression-like conditions.”

—Steve Sandherr, CEO, AGC

The plan’s primary focus is to stimulate new private-sector construction activity, which accounts for 70% of the market. The plan calls for repealing the alternative minimum tax and increasing and extending a series of tax credits and cuts—including the net operating loss carryback and the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts—to boost investments in real estate development.

It also calls for new incentives on global investment in real estate to make it easier for international investors to put Americans back to work. And it continues our call on Congress to restore the President’s “fast-track” trade promotion authority and remove trade barriers to boost demand for new domestic manufacturing and shipping facilities.

AGC has provided a copy of the plan to each member of Congress, and AGC chapters are distributing it to local legislative offices as well. Our staff is working with legislators to make them aware of the plan and why its policies should be implemented. At the same time, we are making the national media aware of it.

We have already seen results with Congress acting on two key provisions outlined in the plan. On Nov. 5, Congress passed legislation to expand the first-time home-buyer tax credit and five-year carryback of net operation losses.

The most effective way to communicate with Congress, however, is for them to hear from their constituents. Chapter leaders were in Washington, D.C., for the annual National and Chapter Leadership Conference, and took the opportunity to visit with their representatives and senators and personally deliver AGC’s Blueprint for Economic Growth.

I encourage you to visit http://blueprint.agc.org and review our plan. Take the opportunity to send a letter to your elected leaders through our Legislative Action Center in support of the plan.

AGC will carefully track our progress by following any legislation that meets the goals of this plan. Our goal is clear: We won’t rest until our industry is thriving again.