It's Thanksgiving week, and if you and yours haven't packed up and headed out for grandmother's house already, you're probably on your way shortly. Or maybe you're the folks who'll be hosting the get-together. Either way, it's just about that time when we'll be saying our Thanks for the people and things that have blessed us.

It seems like during the down years, when all-too-many folks are struggling, it's especially important to take stock of even the little things. I guess that's because during those times, those little things -- like having a job, for instance -- can seem pretty big. And 2009 has been a downer, for sure. With that in mind, I'd like to start a list of things I think people working in the Southeast's construction and design industry should be thankful for. Feel free to extend this list by adding your comments at the end. Here goes:

1) Having a job. Sadly, this is the starting point for thankfulness this year. As ENR reported recently, construction's unemployment rate hit 18.7% in October. When nearly 1 in 5 construction workers are out of work, I hardly need to point this one out. So, whether (or not) the federal stimulus funding has created or saved your job, you can start by giving thanks here.

2) Having a "job." Has your company recently won a construction or design contract? Maybe that project was publicly funded, which is probably more likely if it moved ahead recently. Maybe it was spurred on by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. Maybe it moved forward after a bank or other financial institution actually approved a loan. Trust me, there are those who haven't seen a new contract in a long time. Give thanks for this.

3) Having lots of jobs. Is your company bucking the odds and going gangbusters? Maybe you're in the right market at the right time. Maybe you've managed your company to a real sweet spot in the current construction economy. Maybe all of those relationships have paid off during this down year, just like they're supposed to. Or maybe you've just been a little lucky. Give yourself a pat on the back - and give thanks to those employees (or fellow co-workers) making it all possible.

4) Having just enough jobs. Is your company at least getting by? Not gangbusters, but enough work to get you through the year (or so), with no major layoffs and some decent chances of winning some decent contracts in the near future? Give thanks.

5) Having great workers.
Maybe your company is doing great. Maybe it's hanging in there. Either way, if you look around and see nothing but great employees working their tails off to make things better, then give thanks.

6) It's almost 2010. If you're like most people in the construction industry, after being thankful for having a job -- and I hope anyone reading this has one -- you're probably thankful that 2009 is almost over, and 2010 is almost here. Of course, in the construction and design industry, a new year means another season of hope. And that's where I've got a little good news for you....

According to data provided by McGraw-Hill Construction's Analytics department, the prospects for 2010 are looking decidedly up from 2009. We'll have more details for you soon, but for now I can share that McGraw-Hill Construction is predicting a 10% improvement in the value of new construction starts in the four-state region of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. We'll have more details on this good news in our upcoming Outlook issue, which publishes in January, and at our Web site, But for now, let's just give thanks.

Now - Let me hear what you're thankful for! Share your "Thanksgiving" thoughts with your industry peers by posting your comment here.

Happy Thanksgiving!  And P.S. - Twitter.