Photo Courtesy of the HorvathGroup
2014 AGC President Alan Landes speaks at the convention.
Photo Courtesy of the HorvathGroup
Riders try out AGC's revamped facilities at Horses 4 Heroes in Vegas.

Increasing workforce shortages and declines in infrastructure spending clouded an otherwise upbeat economic picture for the nearly 2,800 attendees at the Associated General Contractors of America convention in Las Vegas earlier this month.

AGC economist Ken Simonson told attendees he sees workforce shortages increasing, up to 49% below critical levels in some regions. He forecasts 4% to 8% growth for non-residential construction, citing year-over-year double-digit increases in every major sector other than public construction, which dipped 2.5%.

Boosting infrastructure and public-works spending will be part of the agenda for incoming AGC President Alan Landes, president and CEO of rail and heavy-highway firm Herzog Contracting Corp., St. Joseph, Mo. "We have a devolution going on in this country right now," Landes said in an interview with ENR. "The states know that no more federal dollars are coming their way, so they have to go to private markets to fund projects."

To improve congressional awareness about infrastructure needs, AGC announced the launch of "Hardhats for Highways." The coalition campaign will encourage employees of transportation contractors to contact congressional representatives directly about the number of local jobs that depend on federal transportation funding.

AGC also launched a new private health-insurance exchange to help member firms cut premium costs. The exchange works with Willis North America to offer a broader range of care options than are available to individual firms, AGC CEO Steve Sandherr said.

AGC's annual community service project opened a new facility for Las Vegas-based Horses 4 Heroes at Tule Springs Ranch, north of the city. Volunteer contractors from local AGC chapters completed $80,000 in improvements to the corrals and stables and gave $20,000 in cash to the group, which offers riding and animal-care programs for veterans, first responders and their families.