By Steve Isenhart President AGC of Washington
In the previous AGC Works we reported on the capital projects package passed by the Legislature. As a reminder of the types of projects included in the $1 billion measure click here.
Passage of this important package of bills provides a great opportunity to talk about the benefits of AGC membership. After all this package is an example of what makes association membership valuable — not just with regard to return-on-investment but also in the sense of what can be accomplished as a united industry.
Usually when we talk about the value of AGC membership we try to put a dollar amount on it as much as possible. Its relatively easy to quantify your AGC Retro refund the value of AGC Safety Services the amount saved through product discounts the benefits of AGC education and training and perhaps even the value of jobs your firm has secured by networking through AGC.
Its more difficult to quantify government affairs. I dont think anyone doubts that its of paramount importance and that AGC is very good at it. But more often than not the value of AGC Government Affairs has more to do with problems avoided: for example the onerous regulations not passed because of AGC opposition. And many times the value of obviously positive things that pass — such as improved lien laws — are hard to quantify.
But not this time. Thanks in large measure to AGC the construction industry market just expanded by a billion dollars over the next few years. This could very well mean that some contractors will get a job or two to see their company through to better economic times. The package will create up to 20000 jobs not just in construction but throughout the economy. A University of Washington study shows that investments in construction projects have a major multiplier effect with half the jobs occurring outside construction (think about the effect on jobs in manufacturing natural resource mining and the corner grocery).
In addition the capitol projects measures are notable because of how well they demonstrate the influence of AGC and its members. Passage of such a large high-profile package was by no means a slam dunk in a Legislative session dominated by budget issues. To get it done AGC made the strategic decision to partner with construction trade unions with whom we are often on opposing sides in Olympia. Community and social service agencies were other non-traditional allies that we developed relationships with in this process with potential future legislative benefits. These groups with their considerable influence secured the support of their many natural allies in Olympia but that was not enough to secure passage particularly when a 60% majority was required.
AGC through behind-the-scenes lobbying timely personal communications and strategic use of the media made the case to legislators who tend to support issues of concern to business. Were it not for the actual and perceived strength of AGC and its 600 member companies we would not have garnered these votes.
While the measures wound their way through the sausage making of the legislative process compromises were needed and the final product includes elements such as the transfer of some funds out of the Public Works Trust Fund that we would not otherwise support. Nevertheless AGCs influence was instrumental in keeping the bills alive throughout a long regular and special legislative session.
This was a significant victory for the industry. Projects funded by the measures will not only employ thousands of construction workers they will also strengthen the states infrastructure and improve economic activity; just one more benefit of membership in AGC!