Federal stimulus spending is starting to make a difference in the otherwise down Kansas City construction market, according to David Kendrick, business manager of the Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Council.
“There’s a significant amount of work in the public sector, but not a lot in the private sector right now,” said Kendrick.
“The stimulus money is starting to show up,” Kendrick added, noting that Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon held a news conference on Monday at a Liberty construction site at which the governor announced that the state will fund $266 million in construction work.
About half of the $266 million will be paid for with federal stimulus money and half from state of Missouri funds, Kendrick quoted Nixon as saying. The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations will administer the projects, Kendrick said.
Governor Nixon said some of these jobs will be ready in February, Kendrick said.
Kendrick said Missouri’s share of the stimulus funding is $4.5 billion over the next two years, well under half of which has been spent.
Another sizeable amount of public works spending, for streets, sewers and catch basins is expected from the city of Kansas City.
Other federal projects now pending include the $103 million mechanical upgrade and weatherization of the Bolling Federal Building. The National Nuclear Security Administration project, the new home for Honeywell, is reported from GSA to be on track to begin sometime in 2010 with a completion schedule of 2012. That is an approximately $660 million job. A General Services Administration (GSA) office building also is under consideration, Kendrick said.
As far as large private projects are concerned, Kendrick said, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will remain under construction for close to another year. Another arts project now under construction is the Todd Bolinger ballet center near Union Station.
A major pending private project that could make a big difference, Kendrick said, is the proposed $250-million Hard Rock Café theme Casino at the Kansas Speedway that the Kansas Lottery Commission is expected to approve or disapprove the first week in December.
Also pending, Kendrick noted, is a major Cerner Corp. office expansion and an accompanying stadium for the Kansas City Wizards soccer team somewhere in the metropolitan area.
Kendrick said the employment picture in the Building Trades is mixed at best, and may continue to be so until the nation starts to break out of the Great Recession. He added that employment is a lagging economic indicator, and that construction also lags the overall economy.
“But I think it’s going to come around,” Kendrick said.