Solving Global Issues with Local Relationships

Downtown Denver construction: Photo by Henry Desro on Unsplash

At last! The midterm elections are over, and we’ve had time to switch to the real debates of the season — whether to brine the turkey and who gets the leftovers. We’ve tried to avoid talking politics with those we love, but disagree with. Now it’s time to look ahead to 2019, and we’re busy preparing not just for the holidays, but for the challenges that our projects will face in the new year. Issues driven by Washington combined with those decided in our local communities are creating a challenging environment for development. These issues aren’t new, but they promise to grow increasingly complex in the near year.

With the G20 summit underway, the question of tariffs on goods from China is top-of-mind. The current tariffs are already slowing down construction projects throughout the US. Shortages of materials are keeping projects in limbo—there simply arec’t enough products available to keep up with the continued construction boom. It’s an issue that could affect construction for years to come.

“We’re relying on our elected officials at every level to put measures in place to help get the manpower and materials that are critical to any project.”

Closer to home, the labor shortage may be the biggest challenge of all.  Any homeowner that’s tried to hire a contractor to work on a small project knows that there just aren’t enough hands to go ‘round, and the issue grows with the size of the project.  A few years ago, the movement for $15 minimum wage was unthinkable, but today it’s a moot point in many communities.  The shortage of workers has driven even entry level wages well beyond the minimum, assuming you can get the people you need.

The labor issue is complicated by the tariffs—with housing projects being slowed down by the lack of materials, the housing shortages in cities like Seattle and Denver will continue to get worse, making it harder, if not impossible, for construction workers to live near the sites where we’d like to build. These issues aren’t unique to development—talk to any chef or restaurateur and they’ll tell you tales of busboys commuting hours to get to work and the need for change. Right now, we aren’t seeing any easy solutions on the horizon.

74th Federal Project – Colorado

As these two issues become more and more intertwined, it will become more and more difficult to push projects through to completion. We’re relying on our elected officials at every level to put measures in place to help get the manpower and materials that are critical to any project.  For now, we’re lucky to have long-established relationships with partners that are helping us develop creative alternatives to overcome these roadblocks.