According to Jay Bostwick, the 2021 Chair of Associated Builders and Contractors of North Florida and Vice President of Sales for Sperry & Associates, Inc., the construction industry in the area is beginning to see encouraging signs of an economic renaissance.
The past year has been incredibly difficult for many businesses and communities across North Florida as the pandemic has put a halt to numerous projects and people are struggling.
Here in Leon County, City of Tallahassee Growth Management reports show that the number of construction permits fell from 432 projects with a value of $312 million in 2019 to 384 projects with a value of $185 million in 2020.
However, there is hope on the horizon in the form of new vaccines and additional stimulus is on the way.
Bostwick has a unique lens on the state of the regional economy. As the 2021 Chair of Associated Builders and Contractors of North Florida, he gets to see and hear regular updates from the leading construction companies across the panhandle from Tallahassee and Pensacola. The organization has approximately 100 members representing all aspects of the commercial construction industry.
“It feels as though many are ready to start building their future again,” said Bostwick. “The word of new dirt turning and hammers swinging is starting to spread.”
Although the building industry weathered the 2020 storm better than some sectors, there were many challenges. However, the Governor’s order declaring construction an essential service allowed companies in Florida to remain on site and working. Construction is a critical part of Florida’s economy – especially when tourism was shut down and active projects kept many people employed during the worst of the pandemic.
There are still hurdles though. Stalled projects, higher prices, and unpredictable circumstances have made navigating the pandemic difficult. However, Bostwick said, “some of the business dreams that were cautiously paused in 2020 are coming back to life. Our members, the construction companies who help build the communities we call home, are ready to aid in this economic recovery.”
Bostwick understands that the construction industry will still face post-pandemic challenges. Companies will continue to follow new safety protocols and develop new means for communicating with subcontractors and clients. In addition to a workforce shortage in the skilled trades, making sure employees are healthy and available to work will remain a priority. Also, building supplies are limited in some cases as production facilities have been forced to slow down.
“We aren’t out of the woods just yet, but there are encouraging signs and economic confidence is beginning to increase”, said Bostwick.
Despite these problems, Bostwick says the members of Associated Builders and Contractors of North Florida “maintain a steadfast commitment to getting the job done. We aren’t in the business of making excuses. We are here to help you get the doors open.”