I swear Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s Ideological head is buried so far in the sand, I doubt he will ever see the day of light. In the opinion section of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, Mr. Walker writes why “he’s not lining up for stimulus handouts.” In it he states that "the stimulus is a bait and switch on employment" and that "it will only create a few construction jobs." Evidently Mr Walker has not been paying attention to what companies in Wisconsin are saying about the stimulus.
If road projects such as highways, bridges and city streets are funded with the federal stimulus dollars, they will have some of the most significant effects on the economy, said Pat Goss, executive director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builder’s Association.
“We’ve got a record number of people on unemployment who have been laid off and let go. I am confident this will accomplish what they want, and the long-term benefit of this will put people back to work,” Goss said.
Mike Sikma, vice president of Musson Bros. Inc., a Brookfield-based contractor that serves road and highway construction, storm and sanitary sewers and other projects, agreed. The state of Wisconsin and its municipalities also have a large number of projects that have been deferred over the years and could quickly be started with federal stimulus dollars, he said.
Manufacturers that serve the transportation and construction industries could indirectly benefit from the federal economic stimulus package because of their customers ordering new machinery or equipment.
GenMet, a Mequon-based steel fabricator that serves original equipment manufacturers related to the paving and construction industry, believes it could see increases as those customers begin work on stimulus-funded projects. GenMet, formerly known as General Metal Works, has facilities in Mequon and Slinger and employs 75 workers.
“We hope that it would trickle down and impact us with sales revenue,” said Mary Isbister, president of the company. “It will also help us because as the infrastructure improves we will more readily get supplies when we buy from our vendors out of state and when we want to sell out of state.”
Building construction projects could help stimulate the economy because of their high wages and the large network of suppliers that support the industry, said Mike Fabishak, chief executive officer of Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee.
We are seeing some layoffs in most of the crafts, particularly the basic trades like carpentry, bricklayers and cement. This is not only from my perspective, but from all of the (AGC) chapters around the country, we’re all thinking that this could be a viable stimulus to our industry at a time when we need it.”
John Hunzinger, president of Brookfield-based Hunzinger Construction Co., agreed.
“Even if (there is stimulus money) not in construction, it’s just about trying to get the tide to come in,” he said. “There is a lot for infrastructure, which will indirectly have some effect on shoring up construction costs to some degree. We’re hoping for some opportunities for some (construction) support and some building opportunities.”
Large contractors winning projects also will provide work for subcontractors in the region.
The University of Wisconsin system has a significant number of building improvement and new construction projects on its statewide list that are ready for construction, which could begin with short notice if there is funding in the economic stimulus package, said Carlos Santiago, chancellor of UW-Milwaukee.
And there is more;
Milwaukee-based Super Steel Products Corp., which manufactures rail cars and other rail industry products, would benefit from a stimulus package, but its effects would take two to three years to take hold, said Jim Schmelzer, president and CEO.
“The unfortunate thing is that the length of time it takes when money is approved to when a passenger rail project is approved is fairly long,” he said. “It’s not immediate. But over a two- to three-year period, it will have a substantial impact as we work with a lot of rail general contractors.”
In early 2008, Super Steel closed its manufacturing facility in Schenectady, New York. It has since shifted production to Milwaukee, where it employs about 400 workers, Schmelzer said. If several projects the company is bidding on are won, Super Steel anticipates growing employment in Milwaukee to more than 500 within 18 months. If the federal stimulus package is approved, its jobs prospects will improve further, Schmelzer said.
Racine-basedRuud Lighting Inc. has already begun marketing and shipping its energy-efficient LEDway product, a street light that uses LED bulbs, which are far more energy efficient than traditional bulbs.
“We align quite nicely with the intent of the president’s stimulus package,” said Chris Ruud, the company’s executive vice president. “If some of the stimulus money is invested into LEDway streetlight projects, more manufacturing jobs will be created in Wisconsin, because we outsource all of the component manufactured parts.”
Seventy-seven percent of the LEDway streetlight components are manufactured in Wisconsin. The remainder is manufactured by other U.S.-based companies, Ruud said.
According to Ruud, for every $50 million of stimulus money, BetaLED and its local suppliers would create 192 full-time, permanent jobs within the state of Wisconsin and an additional 35 jobs throughout the United States.
Don’t tell Scott but I think that’s more than a just a few Construction jobs. Oh there’s more;
Architects and design professionals, who have seen significant layoffs in the economic downturn, could benefit from the economic stimulus if it contains incentives for new buildings or upgrades to existing structures.
Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater is working to learn as much as it can about the initiatives associated with the stimulus package to better assist clients in obtaining funding, said Jill Morin, executive officer.
“We really view ourselves as a partner with our clients, so we want to help them make the case that they should be a beneficiary of any money that might come their way,” she said. “We are watching the planning very carefully to make ourselves more knowledgeable.”
If school-related projects are funded, they could provide a source of new work for architectural firms like Plunkett Raysich Architects.
The stimulus package also will create opportunities for law firms and consultants who will offer services steering clients toward stimulus dollars and programs.
Last week, the Milwaukee-based law firm of Davis & Kuelthau S.C. formed a team of attorneys to assist public and private clients in finding opportunities related to the stimulus package.
“The billions of dollars in targeted spending currently proposed in the bill will have a considerable impact on municipalities, school districts, contractors and suppliers in Wisconsin,” said Ann Rieger, president of the firm. “The rapid deployment of these funds and the ‘shovel ready’ requirement of the projects will require many hours of manpower to comply with the sheer volume of projects that will be funded. We are pleased to provide the necessary support as clients navigate their way through the requirements of this complex and comprehensive initiative.”
I could go on, but I think we all get the picture. Too bad Mr Walker Doesn’t.