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Ohio general contractor Brian Burgett today told members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to recommend to the full House economic stimulus activities that would have an immediate positive impact on economic activity.
“An infusion of federal infrastructure funding would have a direct stimulus effect by putting more contractors and their employees back to work,” said Burgett, president and chief executive officer of the Kokosing Construction Co., Fredericktown, Ohio. “We have excess capacity at Kokosing and throughout the construction industry. Federal investments will create jobs in the Midwest and throughout the country. Additional public infrastructure projects will allow our industry to maintain our workforce and necessitate hiring more workers. It will allow us to purchase equipment and preserve manufacturing jobs.”
He testified on behalf of the Associated General Contractors of America, which strongly supports increased investment for America’s transportation, federal and water infrastructure and other public works programs.
State and local budgets have declined significantly and hampered the ability of those governments to borrow short term, delaying or eliminating various infrastructure improvement projects, he noted. With fewer projects to bid on and increased materials prices, contractors and their suppliers are forced to reduce their work force.
“Kokosing employs approximately 3,000 workers; the consequence of this decline in construction activity is the anticipated reduction of our workforce by 15 to 20 percent in the coming year,” said Burgett. “That translates to 450-600 good, skilled and safe workers who will lose their jobs because of these bad market conditions.”
There has been more than a five percent decrease in heavy and civil engineering construction employment over the past 16 months, he added, which equates to more than 52,000 construction employees now out of work.
Burgett explained that, under current conditions, companies will be forced to trim plans for expansion or investment in equipment, leading to a broader negative impact on the economy.
“Each year we typically replace 10 percent of our equipment fleet and, in a growing market, we would also purchase additional equipment,” he told the committee. “The cost of this investment over the past few years has averaged $35 million per year. We have already canceled some planned purchases for next year and are putting many others on hold until we see what funding is going to be available for new work.”
A complete copy of Burgett’s remarks and prepared testimony are available online at www.agc.org.