Skilled Construction Trades and Respected Contractors
Building Wisconsin Together ®
Welcome to Construction Business Group's Industry Updates.  This monthly e-newsletter will help us communicate the important initiatives that we have underway and relevant updates on issues that impact Wisconsin's construction industry.  
Message from Executive Director  Robb Kahl
The need for sustainable, long-term transportation funding at both the State and Federal levels is a recurring problem. Recently, the ARTBA-led Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) held a virtual meeting during which presenters outlined key factors impacting federal transportation funding:  
  1. Decreased travel due to COVID-19 has reduced state transportation revenues by an estimated 30%;
  2. The FAST Act expires on September 30, 2020, and neither house of Congress has passed a reauthorization bill; and
  3. While many people support infrastructure investment as a strategy for economic recovery, there is very little consensus on how to pay for it. 
Last week, the TCC launched a new grassroots effort called Hardhats to Highways , asking stakeholders to send direct messages to their Congressional delegation and President Trump encouraging them to enact legislation to help address the funding shortage. 
The Hardhats to Highways website makes it easy for stakeholders to communicate with their Congressional delegation and the President. Just go to the "Take Action"  page, enter your name and home address into the form and click on the "Find Legislators" button.  The site locates your U.S. Senators and House Representative, as well as President Trump, and generates an industry message that can be sent as is or tailored to your needs and preferences.
We urge everyone to take just a couple minutes to let the President and your Congressional delegation know that we need their help.  
Building Wisconsin Together ®

New messages for recruiting the next generation

The construction industry needs to maintain a focus on recruiting and retaining talent in order to avoid the challenges we experienced following the 2010 recession. Our industry not only lost a significant number of experienced employees, but also created a pipeline deficit by not continuing to focus on attracting and engaging the younger generation. The failure to invest in "building the pipeline" created a workforce crisis felt by many throughout the last 10 years. When we rebound from this pandemic, companies will again be focused on finding the right talent. Companies that abandon their strategies to hire, develop and retain top talent will struggle to meet the opportunities of the economic rebound.

Now is the ideal time to shift the focus to attracting younger people (Generation Z) to our industry. They will emerge from this pandemic with a renewed need to contribute to their communities in a career that is not only rewarding, but defined as essential.   Consider how your company has adapted its business during the pandemic in ways that will appeal to Gen Z:
  • Increased use of technology - Social distancing required contractors to utilize technology in many new ways from the use of drones for site safety inspections to apps for employee wellness check-ins, and remote workplaces connected by shared files.
  • Reliance on new communication tools - Stay-at-home orders in many states required businesses to adapt to new means of communicating. Safety huddles were held via Zoom, team coordination meetings happened virtually, and app-based communication tools automated activities previously handled via fax, mail and email. For an industry that was reluctant to embrace remote working, we adopted quickly due to necessity.
  • Construction is essential - We all understand the "career image" challenges the construction industry has faced in the past. The coronavirus pandemic positioned the construction industry as equal to many well-respected occupations such as healthcare, emergency responders and banking because of being deemed "essential" to the safety and health of our communities. We know that Gen Z wants to make a difference both personally and professionally. The construction industry will come out of this pandemic with many examples of how we made an impact during unprecedented times.
  • Financial security - The record levels of unemployment from the closure of retail, hospitality and manufacturing during the coronavirus pandemic will have long-term economic impact on their former workforce. The fact that the construction industry has been able to continue working, even if at reduced levels, demonstrates the financial stability that well-paying construction careers offer.
The construction industry has an opportunity to "keep the pipeline full" by demonstrating how resilient and adaptable it is because of increased use in technology, new means of communication and our necessary and meaningful contributions to society. 

Industry News and Updates
From the News Stand
OSHA Launches Coronavirus-Related Guidance 
Webpage for Construction Employers

Recently, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a webpage with coronavirus-related guidance for construction employers and workers. The guidance includes recommended actions to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
The webpage includes information regarding: 
  • Using physical barriers, such as walls, closed doors, or plastic sheeting, to separate workers from individuals experiencing signs or symptoms consistent with the coronavirus; 
  • Keeping in-person meetings (including toolbox talks and safety meetings) as short as possible, limiting the number of workers in attendance, and using social distancing practices; 
  • Screening calls when scheduling indoor construction work to assess potential exposures and circumstances in the work environment before worker entry; 
  • Requesting that shared spaces in home environments where construction activities are being performed, or other construction areas in occupied buildings, have good air flow; and 
  • Staggering work schedules, such as alternating workdays or extra shifts, to reduce the total number of employees on a job site at any given time and to ensure physical distancing. 
The guidance on this webpage is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. 
The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.
SBA Issues Interim Final Rule on PPP Loan Forgiveness

Recently, the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an Interim Final Rule that provides borrowers and lenders with much-needed guidance on the requirements governing the forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The guidance is in the form of an FAQ. Outlined below is a summary of the topics included in the  Interim Final Rule .
Loan Forgiveness Process

What is the general process to obtain loan forgiveness?
To receive loan forgiveness, a borrower must complete and submit the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application to its lender. As a general matter, the lender will review the application and decide on loan forgiveness. The lender has 60 days from receipt of a complete application to issue a decision to the SBA.  ( Read more )
House Democrats Support DOT Backstop Funding

U.S. Reps. Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan joined 134 of their House colleagues this week in sending a letter to leadership supporting nearly $50 billion in funding to state departments of transportation to compensate for lost revenues due to decreased driving during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The request to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy comes as Congress debates a possible next round of relief legislation.  House Democrats introduced a bill targeting more than $3 trillion to relief to state and local governments and other priorities (including $15 billion for state DOTs), President Trump is touting a payroll tax cut and Senate Republicans are focused on liability protections for businesses while urging caution on new spending until the effects of nearly $3 trillion from the previous four relief packages are known.
This week's letter points out that state DOTs are projecting an average 30% loss in revenues over the next 18 months, with losses in some states possibly as high as 45%.  Wisconsin's DOT has said it intends to maintain its construction program for the current fiscal year (which ends June 30), but it could face problems in the second year of the state budget due to revenues lower than projections.
WTBA contacted the entire House delegation urging them to sign onto the letter in support of transportation funding.
U.S. House letter
TRIP Documents $211 Billion in Rural Road Needs

The emerging transportation funding shortfall comes as the nation's rural roads, highways and bridges face a $211 billion backlog in needed repairs and improvements, according to report released this week by a national advocacy group.  The report by TRIP compared state-by-state road and bridge conditions and recommended strategies to improve infrastructure and motorist safety.  It found that 13% of Wisconsin rural pavements are rated in poor condition, ranking the state 23rd nationally.
TRIP Rural Road Report
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