It was no accident the C-E-O of the National Association of General Contractors flew out from Washington to stand in front of a stalled development on the shores of the Sparks Marina Tuesday morning.
In another economic environment, condominiums should be rising around the parking structure. Instead it's weeds that are growing around the foundations on this prime piece of property. There's unused building material stacked here and there, but no activity.
Banks were bailed out, but the money isn't flowing and that means little financing to start or complete projects like this.
"It's sad," said A-C-C Chief Operation Officer Stephen Sandherr," especially in this area where there are so many skilled workers ready to go to work
Some of those iworkers were on hand today as Sandherr unveiled a package of tax cuts and incentives and federal investments his organization hopes to sell to Congress to get the American construction industry back to work.
Simply put," says Sandherr, "you can't fix our economy until you fix the construction industry."
In the past year, August to August, the Reno Sparks area lost 35 percent of its construction jobs. Nowhere in the U-S was that figure higher.
Behind those numbers are guys like carpenter Bill Madison who worked all of 3 months last year and had to leave town to do that.
"I'd relocate," Madison says, "but there's no place to go. Nothing's coming out of the ground."
He says he's getting by on unemployment benefits and savings from better times.
Frank Lepori, the president of the local AGC, says there are a number of projects in our area like the Villas on the Marina. They're either incomplete or left on the drawing boards.
Unfortunately that isn't the worst of it. "Arcitects in town aren't busy," he notes. "That means there's nothing in the pipeline."
And that would indicate things aren't going to get better any time soon unless something changes.
No one offers a definitive explanation why our local construction industry has been hit harder than others. Lepori notes that some hangover after recent boom years was to be expected, but this fall off has been unusually deep.
According to the A-G-C, 324 of the nation's 337 largest metropolitan areas lost construction jobs in the last 12 months. Following behind our area....Duluth, Tucson, Wenatchee, Washington and Redding, California.