Sponsored by Oregon Business

Staying alive

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


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

Meet Me at the Crossroads, ESPN

The Latest
Friday, October 30, 2015

Worldwide Leader in Sports struggles to cope with new media landscape, forcing us to adjust our behavior as consumers.


100 Best Nonprofits: Working for equality inside and out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Striving for social equity is the mission of many nonprofits, and this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon survey shows employees are most satisfied with their organizations’ fair treatment of differing racial, gender, disability, age and economic groups. But as a national discourse about racial discrimination and equity for low-income groups takes center stage, data show Oregon’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For still need to make progress on addressing these issues within their own organizations.


Downtime with Barry Cain

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Live, work, play with the president of Gramor Development.


Reader Input: In or Out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The refugee crisis has put immigration and border issues on the front burner, in Europe and at home. In Oregon, attitudes toward illegal immigration haven’t changed dramatically since 2006.


Have a baby and keep a job? It won’t be easy in Portland

The Latest
Friday, October 02, 2015
100115kimblogthumbBY KIM MOORE

Our intrepid (and expecting) research editor finds the child care search involves long waiting lists, costly fees and no certainty of securing a place before she goes back to work.


Photos: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon awards dinner

The Latest
Thursday, October 01, 2015
100best202thumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the big 2015 celebration of worker-friendly organizations that make a difference.


Seven questions about mandatory sick leave

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
102815-contributedthumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Many employers have questions about what mandatory sick leave means for their company. Take a look at the top 7 questions Oregon employers are asking.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02