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Monday, January 12, 2009

The new order

Barak Obama takes office on Jan. 20. Soon, infrastructure funding will flow. How can you capture some of this money?

Soon, the U.S. will have a new government, and soon, the plans for a gigantic infrastructure blitz will commence. As this occurs, we are preparing to relaunch Washington Construction News and have already started co-ordinating editorial coverage, including an Associated General Contractors (DC Chapter) Inaugural Day party. Washington will be where things are happening in the next while, as the public money flows to states and local communities -- and then, hopefully to architects, engineers, contractors, sub trades and suppliers.

Undoubtedly the public funding create conflicts, problems, and potential corruption. You may also wonder if the infusion of cash by increasing the national debt to unprecedented levels will just add to future problems. I'm not an economist and won't dare answer that question, other than to scratch my head at how fiscal mismanagement under supposedly conservative administration led to a situation where the economy risks severe deflation. (Clearly a collapse in housing/real estate values for people burdened by high mortgages and job losses is an invitation for depression-level problems.)

In these circumstances, infrastructure expenditure on construction seems to make sense; after all, the assets will continue to be of value to the community for decades going forward, and the people and businesses put to work will be in the U.S. (and Canada) and not some third-world country.

How can you connect to this government money?

First, and most important, while much work will be bid publicly, your chances for success are much higher if you have cultivated great relationships with relevant officials, either locally, at state levels or (if you are really in the game) in Washington. The Brooks Act will certainly bar you from low-ball entry offers unless you have proven competence and great existing relationships.

Secondly, you will want to enhance and build your relationships with others who know where the money is flowing. This is especially the case if you are a sub-trade or supplier/or local general contractor. Here, undoubtedly, the multi-chapter SM PS network will be helpful to you (though you may be a little late if you are not currently a member and haven't already cultivated your relationships.)

Your chances for success remain, as always, where you have connections, relationships, and a solid reputation.

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