Construction Industry continues to hold plenty of opportunities in MN & ND
The upcoming construction outlook in Minnesota and North Dakota looks to be very good for 2019. In Minnesota, the construction industry is coming off a near record year with construction activity showing strength in nearly every market segment. This has resulted in some of the lowest overall unemployment numbers we have seen at 2.8% for both MN & ND from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dodge forecasts are predicting reductions in market sectors closer to the 2017 market level, but the onset of certain large scale commercial, medical, energy and transportation projects will work to generate new opportunities over the next three years.
Northland Preps for Opportunity
In Northern Minnesota, large scale construction projects are expecting to benefit Union contractors and skilled Laborers Union members (LIUNA). Essentia Health is kicking off the state’s biggest medical expansion project, and $800 million project in Duluth as part of “Vision Northland” which is the largest private development in Duluth’s history. Husky Refinery in Superior, WI, site of an April, 2018 explosion, is planning to reopen in 2020 once all the necessary reconstruction is completed by the skilled Union trades. Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 Replacement project is set to kick off a $2.6 billion project that will employ hundreds of LIUNA members across the entire northland over the next two years. LIUNA is advocating for the Polymet Mining project on the iron range, as they move closer to final permitting and approvals.
The Rochester community continues to embrace a number of developments associated with the Destination Medical Center (DCM) expansion, a robust 20-year $5.6 billion economic development initiative. The first phase is nearing completion with the Discovery Square Phase 1 Center, an 89,000 square foot bioscience building that is a central part of the 16 block Discovery Square District. Next up is an 11 story addition to the landmark Gonda Building which will raise the Rochester skyline for the years to come. LIUNA members and Contractors are getting opportunities in street, utilities and other infrastructure improvements to serve Rochester. Visit www.dmc.mn for information on DMC happenings.
Light Rail Highlights Metro Area Work
The metropolitan area remains strong with a number of high rise developments underway and continued strength in the healthcare, public schools and sewer/water markets. The Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) project is kicking off with the recent announcement on the Federal Transit Administration’s “Letter of No Prejudice”, a milestone that allows the $2 billion project to move forward.
School Construction Gets a Boost
Public school construction in Minnesota was aided by the November 2018 elections as voters approved another $783 million to improve public education facilities all across the state. Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Grand Rapids, Northfield and West St. Paul approved the largest referendums, totaling $364 million from the group.
Transportation Sector Gains Ground
In Minnesota, new revenues gained in the previous two legislative cycles will help boost the transportation sector and keep stability in road and bridge building across the state. In 2018, the legislature provided another $400 million in trunk highway bonds for the Corridors of Commerce program. In addition, significant capital bonding bills were passed in both 2017 and 2018 that provided more funding for the Local Road Improvement Program and the Local Bridge Program. LIUNA Minnesota is actively pursuing ways to increase much needed state funding to keep our roads and bridges up to date and meet the needs of a growing transportation system.
LIUNA Minnesota continues to track a host of opportunities in Minnesota and North Dakota for renewable energy construction – namly wind and solar. With a number of projects on the horizon, LIUNA and the building trades maintain that these jobs should be in the hands of local workers, as some out of state developers routinely bring in out of state workers. Please follow the LIUNA Minnesota/North Dakota social media platform for updates on renewable energy opportunities.
North Dakota on the Upswing
Laborers Local 563 in North Dakota is optimistic regarding work opportunities in 2019. The Local continues to grow in membership and has expanded their footprint throughout the state with a variety of job prospects in energy generation and outages, roads and bridges, healthcare and commercial building. The Bismark office notes that the Mandan Andeavor Refinery and Trinity Hospital in Minot will both continue into the next year. The Fargo Local 563 office is working on a number of opportunities in the Fargo/Morehead and Grand Forks regions and has brought on many new skilled Laborers to meet contractors work force needs.