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
Utility Scale Solar Developments Offer Job Opportunities for the Trades
For decades, electricity generated by solar technology was limited to residential rooftops and very small commercial uses due to the cost of solar panels, limits on technology use in states where the sun is often behind clouds, and battery storage restrictions. Over the last decade, however, improvements in technology and a 75% reduction in cost have made utility-scale solar generation facilities a viable option.

Over the next 5-10 years, Wisconsin utilities intend to bring several gigawatts of solar electric generation facilities online with a capital investment price tag approaching $3 billion. Wisconsin utilities, such as Alliant Energy, have historically been friendly partners with the trades—often constructing and operating electric generation facilities with Wisconsin contractors and local tradesmen and women. This makes sense because it is Wisconsin ratepayers that will ultimately pay for the facilities through their utility bills, so it should be Wisconsin businesses and workers that benefit from the economic growth spurred by large infrastructure projects.

However, many of the planned utility-scale solar projects are being developed by out-of-state third parties. Known as “merchant plants,” Wisconsin law allows a non-utility company to own and construct an electric generation facility and then sell the electricity at wholesale to Wisconsin utilities. Third-party, out-of-state developers, however, often do not have the same commitment to the local economy that Wisconsin utilities do. Studies show every dollar of a project completed by an out-of-state contractor, results in over two dollars in economic value leaving our state.
Building Wisconsin Together®

October is Careers
in Construction Month
Local 139 is committed to promoting our rewarding trade as career choice to meet the needs of our contractors and ensure there is adequate bench-depth of membership (which is necessary for the fiscal strength of our health and pension funds).  

We know you are proud of the work you do building Wisconsin, so we ask for your help this fall as we celebrate Careers in Construction month. Here are a few easy ways you can help: 
1. Promote the pre-apprenticeship program for high school students

Tell a student, parent, or educator about the pre-apprenticeship opportunity available through Wisconsin Operating Engineer’s partnership with Destinations Career Academy.  

  • Wisconsin’s online public charter school focused on Career & Technical Education
  • DWD certified pre-apprenticeship program 
  • Student remains enrolled at their current high school
  • Take 1-2 Operating Engineer pre-apprenticeship courses a semester
  • Basic Equipment
  • Basic Maintenance
  • Basic Grade & Math for the Trades
  • CDL Preparation
  • Complete apprenticeship requirements while still in high school

2. Promote and participate in the Externship Days at the Coloma Training Center
on November 8-9th

The Wisconsin Operating Engineers Externship Day is an opportunity for students, parents, and educators to:  

  • Tour the training center, including the indoor training arena
  • Test their skill on equipment simulators
  • Gain hands-on experience with mini excavators
  • Learn about apprenticeship opportunities
  • Interact with current apprentices and Operators
  • Hear from employers about opportunities that exist and what they are seeking in employees

Seeking operators and apprentices to assist at the event with the equipment, tours, and discussion. We also need more employers to participate in the employer panel.  

3. Help students in your community explore a career as an Operating Engineer

There are many ways to provide experience to students without getting behind the controls of a piece of equipment:

  • Coordinate with the training center to have a simulator visit your local school
  • Attend a career fair event and share your personal experience
  • Offer to provide a talk and tour of a nearby job that you are working on
  • Host students at your company to learn about the variety of careers available
  • Consider offering a job shadow on work experience to a student on work release

Details on Destinations Career Academy and the November 8-9th Externship Day are available at or for additional questions contact Laura Cataldo at 608-616-2835 or
Building Wisconsin Together®
From the News Stand
July Construction Employment Lags Pre-Pandemic Peak in 36 States as Delta Variant of Coronavirus Threatens to Hold Down Further Gains
Construction employment in July remained below the levels reached before the pre-pandemic peak in February 2020 in 36 states, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of government employment data released today. Association officials said construction employment would benefit from new federal infrastructure investments and urged the House to quickly pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“This data shows that full recovery remains elusive for construction in most states,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “In fact, the fast-spreading COVID-19 delta variant may make it harder to find employees eligible to work on restricted sites and may also depress demand if some owners defer projects.
The U.S. Needs to Fix Existing Roads, Not Build New Ones
A new report finds that the wear and tear on our highway system has greater costs than were previously understood, implying a need for more transportation infrastructure investment, especially for road maintenance.
As the bipartisan infrastructure bill wends its way through Congress, state and local politicians are salivating over the tens of billions of dollars that will likely soon be headed their way for road construction and maintenance.

New research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research measuring the social cost of damaged roads buttresses the case for prioritization of highway repairs.

“The rougher the roads are, there are substantial costs in terms of higher vehicle operating costs, longer travel times and less traffic safety,” says Margaret Bock, professor of economics at Goucher College. “Our estimates are a lot larger than previous estimates. We really need to be investing in fixing the roads.”
Amid Likelihood of Impasse, Lawsuits ask Courts to Prepare to Draw New District Line
Competing redistricting suits are before the courts as the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty asked the state Supreme Court to step in and several nonpartisan groups went to federal court.

The actions follow a suit from a half-dozen Dem voters asking a federal court earlier this month to set a deadline for GOP lawmakers and Dem Gov. Tony Evers to pass a map before taking over to draw the lines.

All three suits have one thing in common: they argue the likelihood of Evers and GOP lawmakers reaching a deal on new legislative and congressional boundaries is extremely low.

They want the courts to declare the current lines are unconstitutional due to population shifts and to put in place plans to draw lines on their own if the Legislature and Evers fail to reach a deal in a timely fashion.
Walworth County Fairgrounds at Center of Human Trafficking Investigation
A Honduran man who came to the United States on a work visa has been indicted on charges that he abused that same process to exploit other Hondurans into forced labor, through an operation centered at the Walworth County Fairgrounds.

Denis Leonel Rodriguez Oyuela, 37, was arrested this month at the fairgrounds and was charged last week by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to commit fraud in foreign labor contracting, conspiracy to force others into labor, as well as with aiding, abetting and conspiracy to commit alien harboring for financial gain.

He has been jailed since his arrest Aug. 11, but has asked to be released on electronic monitoring to live with a friend in Delavan.

Larry Gaffey, general manager of the Walworth County Agricultural Society, said the 172-year-old nonprofit "is partly victims in this too." He said the society is cooperating with the FBI, which has asked fair officials not to say much about the ongoing investigation. He said no member of the society is a target, and that agents who executed a search warrant at society facilities were mostly focused on a vendor that does business with the fair.
City of Racine Receives $250,000 State Grant to Support Redevelopment of Historic Facility
The City of Racine is receiving a $250,000 state grant to help fund the redevelopment of the headquarters building within the Horlick Malted Milk Co. complex.

The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will support conversion of the vacant facility into a mixed-use building containing apartment units and commercial space.

“One of the top priorities of WEDC is to promote substantive local development by helping communities enhance their business districts and establish firm foundations for ongoing economic growth,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “This project will not only bring more housing opportunities and commercial space to Racine but will also preserve a piece of the city’s history by redeveloping a historic building.”

Once redevelopment is finished, the property will have 86 units of housing and ground-floor commercial space. Construction has begun with a total capital investment estimated at $23.7 million.
An Urban Sports Complex is Being Proposed for a 22-acre Site on Milwaukee's North Side Near I-43 and Capitol Drive
An urban sports complex is being proposed for a 22-acre site on Milwaukee's north side, just west of Interstate 43 and north of West Capitol Drive.

Known as The Opportunity Center, the 300,000-square-foot facility would make sports and wellness activities accessible to all people, regardless of race, gender, age, level of experience, ability or disability, according to a Thursday announcement.

It is planned for 4206-4450 N. Green Bay Ave.

The project's development costs are estimated at $80 million, with the goal of opening the center by 2025.

The center's financing is to include a $2.5 million loan from Milwaukee Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit business lender, for the land purchase. That loan is to A.F.A.R. Inc., the nonprofit corporation that will develop the facility.
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