In our upcoming January print edition, ENR Southeast will debut a new feature that we're calling the Watch List. This feature will list some trends and developments that could have a major impact on the Southeast's construction industry. (Actually, the types of items that could possibly be included on the Watch List include companies and even people, too.)
Here, momentarily, I'll preview the items we'll "look at" further in our January feature story—and then ask you, the reader, for your own, confidential, input. With that in mind, here's a preview of our inaugural Watch List.
Labor Shortage: There's no question that the construction industry, both nationally and regionally, is facing a future shortage of workers. One of the most recent media reports came from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which quoted one area contractor: "We're starting to feel it now, and it's slowly going to get worse." Also, when we asked Randy Hall, president and CEO of Batson-Cook, what he was keeping his eye on in 2014, he stated: "Creative solutions that will allow the construction industry to effectively deal with the looming shortage of skilled workers." This issue will likely grow in importance, considering the next item on the list.
Nonresidential Construction Revival: Construction has been slowly picking up the pace in the last couple of years. So far, it's mostly been the residential market that's been fueling construction gains, while the nonresidential market has lagged behind. According to initial data from McGraw Hill Construction, that's going to change in 2014. After eking out a 1% gain in 2013, the company says nonresidential construction in the four-state Southeast region will grow by 26% in 2014. (More details coming soon.)
Barton Malow Co. started construction on the $400-million makeover of Daytona International Speedway earlier this year, which could be the first of several Southeast sports projects to move forward. (Image courtesy Rossetti)
Sports Construction: With the Atlanta Braves' recent announcement that they plan to build a new ballpark in nearby Cobb County, the Southeast's already active sports construction business went to another level. After all, there's the $1.2-billion stadium for the Atlanta Falcons, the $400-million makeover of Daytona International Speedway, and several other major projects throughout the region.
Atlanta and Miami: Historically, the Southeast's two biggest metros for construction activity have been Atlanta and Miami, in that order. As ENR Southeast has noted previously, Miami-area construction activity was the first to rebound, based mostly on a significant rebound in the condominium and apartment building markets. It will be interesting to see whether Miami's residential market can continue its latest boom. Meanwhile, with major-league stadium projects possibly moving ahead next year, Atlanta's own version of a construction boom could become reality in quick fashion.
Florida's New P3 Law: Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers broadened the type of public projects that can be built via a public-private partnership, so that now buildings, and not just infrastructure, can be procured in this manner. The task force guiding the shape of the new law, known as the Partnership for Public Facilities and Infrastructure, is scheduled to submit its recommendations by next July. This P3 expansion could have a huge impact on future construction in the Sunshine State.
And.... What do you think? What other trends are you "watching" with keen interest? Are there other construction markets or locations that are poised to catch the industry's collective eye? There are two ways to share your opinion: You can "share" a comment below. Or, if you'd prefer to stay anonymous, you can email me at email@example.com. Either way, I'll be watching.