Economy dampers construction industry - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Economy dampers construction industry

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There's not a lot of construction going on right now in south Georgia because the still struggling economy is scaring many developers away from investing in projects.

But the construction industry is still vital to our economy.

That's why Albany Technical College works to build a better future for that industry. Thursday, more than 4-hundred middle and high school students went to Albany Tech to learn about jobs in the industry they could get one day.

The kids learned how to lay bricks, but they also learned how to help people.

"I actually enjoy it," said Stannis Collins, an eighth grader. "My uncle actually does it. It's something not very new. But, It's actually enjoyable. And you know, you're helping other people build a house."

Helping people through building and construction is not as easy as it used to be.

"Construction overall is down dramatically nationwide and we're not exempt from that here," said Albany Tech instructor Wayne Barnette. "Companies are not hiring as many as they were. But, they are still hiring new employees"

New employees have to do just what the kids did by learning many skills and how to do them safely. All construction is not down. Robert Pope, the construction safety manager with Brassfield Gorrie, says public projects are actually thriving.

"Government work is still continuing," Pope said. "That's what's carrying a lot of companies right now is schools, government, hospitals, or government projects, water treatments plants. That's some of the work carrying most of the industry right now."

The thing that is hurting the industry most is fear.

"The fear that things are not going to get better plays a bigger part in the residential construction," said Barnette. "If you're not sure the economy isn't going to get better, you're not going to obligate yourself for a large mortgage."

While these kids learned construction, the most important task lies ahead which is rebuilding the economy.

What the industry is looking for right now is success stories. If a place like a restaurant comes in and does well, it helps build the confidence that other construction projects can do the same.

Barnette says there is actually an advantage to building now. Prices are lower and you get more for your buck.

 

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