Staying alive

| Print |  Email
Articles - Nov/Dec 2012
Monday, November 05, 2012

BY JON BELL

1112 StayingAlive 01
One of the brightest spots in Oregon’s construction industry over the past two years: Intel’s $3 billion D1X fab, which has created thousands of construction jobs. Just as work was winding down on this phase, the company announced plans for a massive second phase similar in scope to the first one and set to kick off in 2013.
// Rendering by Intel

68,800: Construction jobs in Oregon in September 2012
69,600: Construction jobs in Oregon in September 2011
104,800: Construction jobs in Oregon in September 2007

Over the past three and a half years, John Mohlis didn’t receive a single phone call from any company interested in learning about the capacity of Oregon’s construction workforce. As executive secretary of the Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council, Mohlis had been used to getting such calls during headier economic days when companies considered building here, so the long silence was telling.

But in the past few months, Mohlis’ phone has started ringing again. Not off the hook, but a handful of firms have called about the manpower here should they choose Oregon from their short list of prospective project sites.

“Out of those four or five calls, who knows how many of those projects we might get,” Mohlis says, “but when the phone’s not ringing at all, you don’t get any of them. So that’s encouraging.”

All around the Beaver State, there are subtle signs that the proverbial phones have slowly begun to ring again. Yesterday’s condominium boom has been overshadowed by new apartment projects. Colleges and universities all seem to have student housing and other projects freshly opened or in the works. The massive, $133 million remodel of the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt federal building and construction of the $160 million Collaborative Life Sciences Building at Oregon Health & Science University have kept some Portland firms humming. And a certain high-tech giant in Hillsboro has by itself boosted the state’s employment numbers with the construction of a single new plant.

Elsewhere, however, the scene still struggles. Mohlis says without the Intel fab in Hillsboro, construction unemployment around Portland would probably be averaging about 25%. A wave of publicly funded projects, approved back when times weren’t so tight, is coming to a close, and once-grandiose plans for destination resorts throughout Central Oregon have been exponentially scaled back.

The result is a construction environment that may be getting back to work, but one that has seen better days.

“The construction industry is pretty much still in a recession,” says Bart Eberwein, executive vice president of Hoffman Construction Co. in Portland. “We are all missing the good old days, but there is work out there that’s keeping us alive.”



 

More Articles

The short list: 5 companies making a mint off kale

The Latest
Thursday, November 20, 2014
kale-thumbnailBY OB STAFF

Farmers, grocery stores and food processors cash in on kale.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

Three problems with Obama's immigration order

News
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR112614-immigration-thumb

By now, anyone who knows about it has a position on President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The executive order is the outcome of failed attempts at getting a bill through the normal legislative process. Both Obama and his predecessor came close, but not close enough since the process broke down multiple times.


Read more...

Legislative Preview: A Shifting Balance

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER

Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies survey is open

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


Read more...

OB Poll: Wineries and groceries

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

24-winethumbA majority of respondents agreed: Local vineyards should remain Oregon-owned and quality is the most important factor when determining where to eat or buy groceries.


Read more...

Corner Office: Pam Edstrom

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Seven tidbits of information from an agency partner and co-founder of Waggener Edstrom in Lake Oswego.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS