BOISE (KIVI) — A new report released by the Associated General Contractors of America shows that construction numbers have been down across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. But in Idaho, the numbers keep going up.
Construction has increased by 2% statewide and now makes up 6.9% of Idaho’s gross domestic product.
“Over 58,000 Idahoans make their living in construction,” said Wayne Hammon of the Idaho Associated General Contractors. “Construction is at an all-time high, especially in the home market, but also multi-family like the project we are at today.”
Okland Construction is building a new five-story apartment building in downtown Boise next to the Greenbelt.
The Park Place Apartments will feature 237 market-rate apartments and a parking garage with more than 300 spaces.
“The end-user will be able to park on the level where they live,” said Ben Petzinger, the project director. “That’s unique to the market.”
But the construction industry also faces some challenges, and it can be tough for contractors to find labor.
“There is a stigma that needs to be overcome when it comes to construction as a career,” said Petzinger. “We look at this in terms of applied technology, there is more technology in our industry today than there has ever been, and tomorrow it will be one step further.”
That also holds true for highly skilled subcontractors that builders need when constructing something like the Park Place Apartments.
“We feel very strongly about encouraging the next generation of plumbers, electricians, framers and welders,” said Petzinger. “This is a great way to make a living, and there is a lot of good to be said about building something.”
With all the growth in the Treasure Valley, the industry doesn’t expect the building to slow down anytime soon.
“There is a huge market for anyone working in construction,” said Hammon. “There are jobs waiting for them right here in Boise, good-paying jobs.”
Construction also faced challenges during the pandemic. It took some time to get personal protective equipment and construction workers faced several scenarios where they can’t social distance.
Contractors added extra sanitizing stations and scheduled meetings with inspectors when the workers weren’t on site.
Safety is an essential aspect of construction, and the pandemic forced contractors to take those guidelines even farther.