Obama: U.S. investment plans based on shale gas have reached almost $100B | Governments, private sector play roles in securing critical infrastructure | Refining industry looks to build near shale
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February 4, 2014
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Obama: U.S. investment plans based on shale gas have reached almost $100B
U.S. manufacturing is showing signs of steady recovery, as evidenced by investment plans of almost $100 billion for facilities that use American natural gas, President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address. Obama pledged to help eliminate bureaucratic obstacles to the construction, which is expected to spur economic growth and create jobs. Publicly announced corporate investments based on shale gas had reached $91 billion as of early January, according to the American Chemistry Council, which tracks the investments. National Geographic News (free registration) (1/31)
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The Merchants Bonding Company Leaderboard Program salutes Holmes Murphy & Associates Inc. of West Des Moines, IA, for attaining the Masters Tour of surety professionals. Merchants salutes the best of the best each year. Congratulations to Craig Hansen, Jay Freiermuth, Brian Deimerly, & Tim McCulloh for their partnership for growth in 2013.
Infrastructure & Project Focus
Governments, private sector play roles in securing critical infrastructure
The revised National Infrastructure Protection Plan released last month by the Department of Homeland Security highlights the need for collaboration among government at all levels as well as the private sector to make critical infrastructure more resilient against weather events, cyberattacks, pandemics and other disasters, risk-management experts say. "You bring [resilience efforts] down to the level of the local level, to the companies -- everybody has a responsibility with this in looking at how we can reshape how infrastructure is designed and built," said William Anderson of The Infrastructure Security Partnership. FederalNewsRadio.com (1/31)
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Refining industry looks to build near shale
Refiners such as Valero Energy, Blue Dolphin and Kinder Morgan are investing in crude-processing equipment and are planning to build facilities in Texas, North Dakota and Utah. "The Eagle Ford has created its own marketplace," said Jonathan Carroll, CEO of Blue Dolphin. "It's changed the course for others, and specifically for us, because we're right in the middle of it -- wells are literally across the street." Bloomberg (1/31)
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Comeback seen for high-end hotel construction
Pent-up demand for hotel space will help propel a comeback in luxury hotel construction, say experts, and renovation of existing properties is expected to strengthen in the coming year. Among other likely trends: a pickup in "green" construction practices. Hotel Management online (1/31)
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Weighing the risks of going it alone: The tale of 2 bridges
It will cost more than $2 billion to build the New International Trade Crossing bridge between Detroit and Canada, and Canada is planning to foot the majority of the bill and will start to acquire needed land -- even though the U.S. has yet to promise it will pay the $200 million needed to build a customs plaza. The reason behind that, given the risk, is that the project is "too important" to not do anything, according to Roy Norton, Canada's outgoing consul general in Detroit. Similarly, lawmakers in Oregon are debating the risks of being the sole developer of the $2.8 billion Columbia River Crossing project between Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., after Washington pulled out. Detroit Free Press (2/2), The Oregonian (Portland) (2/1)
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Officials in L.A. struggle to deal with needed seismic retrofits
A list of buildings in Los Angeles that could prove dangerous in an earthquake has officials there wondering how best to enhance their safety -- and how seismic retrofits, if needed, would be paid for. "There's no question that this is a major public-policy issue," said Michael Cochran, president of the Structural Engineers Association of California. "But from our perspective, it is work that needs to be done. We have a lot of faults that are overdue for an earthquake, and we need to bring them up to code." Los Angeles Daily News (2/3)
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Economic Update
Construction spending, recovery "uneven," says Simonson
(natthapenpis/ natthapenpis)
The unemployment rate in the construction section was 11.4% at the end of last year, but construction spending increased only 0.1% in December compared with an increase of 0.8% in November, which helps highlight how uneven the recovery is. "Given the variability of weather, especially in winter, the downturn in December is not cause for alarm," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for The Associated General Contractors of America. "The data does show how uneven the recovery remains with residential construction doing very well, but the public sector remains weak, and private nonresidential construction is mixed." American City Business Journals/Louisville (2/3), Reuters/Canada (2/3), The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model)/Real Time Economics Blog (2/3)
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Innovation & Green Building
Data-collection software facilitates earning green-certification credits
Earning green-certification credits for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design can be made easier by using software to collect, track and calculate data related to LEED credits, according to this article. For instance, two companies achieved success with cloud-based technology from iLiv Technologies that helped them collaborate and communicate, track tasks and collect and share the credit data. Constructech (free registration) (2/3)
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UAE's Masdar City will be a testament to sustainability
Construction of Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates is expected to be complete in 2025. Once finished, it will be become "a testament to what's possible if sustainability is placed at the core of urban planning," writes Mary Mazzoni. In this essay, she includes many photos from her recent trip to the city. TriplePundit.com (2/3)
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Association News
Construction spending inches up 0.1% in December, rises 4.8% in 2013
Total construction spending edged up 0.1% in December and rose by a modest 4.8% for all of 2013, as a robust market for apartments and single-family houses outweighed downturns in private nonresidential and public projects, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by AGC of America. Association officials added that swift Congressional action on vital highway and water infrastructure measures would give a needed boost to public-sector demand. "Residential construction ended on a strong note in 2013 and should remain positive for at least the next several months," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "Meanwhile, private nonresidential spending appears to be poised for a rebound, but the short-term outlook for public construction is still negative." Read more.
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Do more with less
In recent years, AGC members have been pressed to deliver more services at lower cost, while maintaining the highest quality. Recognizing this challenge, AGC developed a "Doing More With Less" webpage, which contains a number of tools and resources to help members maximize their efficiency. These include a searchable database, which will allow contractors of all types and sizes to share cost-saving ideas that have worked successfully in their firms and to learn from others' best practices, a LinkedIn Group, and several AGC Forums. Check out this webpage for more information about how your firm can "Do More With Less!" Please contact Sarah Gallegos with any questions.
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Not to engage in the pursuit of ideas is to live like ants instead of like men."
-- Mortimer J. Adler,
American philosopher
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