As I write this, we’re almost at the finish line. The $1.2 trillion core infrastructure bill currently being considered by Congress contains historic levels of funding for the kind of construction projects we are proud to build.
That astounding $55 billion for water infrastructure will dig a lot of trenches and pour a lot of concrete. And the additional $65 billion for broadband will help more companies find new projects modernizing local fiber-optics systems. And the $110 billion for new highways, roads, and bridges will mean a better bottom line for those involved in highway construction. This $1.2 trillion bill contains a historic level of resources for water infrastructure and broadband projects, something NUCA has been working for the last 12 years to achieve. It is almost within reach.
Yet, while our lawmakers engage in political games and last-minute debates over this bill, our association remains focused on the next steps. We are confident those much-needed resources will flow into the industry, but that’s only the first part of the equation. Once the funding arrives, what then?
Our industry was already facing labor shortages before the pandemic, and experts are projecting a continued shortfall in our trades for the next several years, if not longer. When Congress finishes with infrastructure, it needs to turn its attention to workforce development issues to find the employees to build these projects. That demand will be a top message in this fall’s Summit.
We’ve achieved a lot in the last two years as an association. And what makes this possible is your participation in NUCA and your local chapters. Many of you responded this summer to our Muster advocacy alerts and wrote your lawmakers about the core infrastructure bill. With your help, we achieved one of our spring Summit goals: renewal of the nation’s surface transportation law, which will help with your long-range project planning.
Participation is also spreading the message and growing our membership. Many of us took the NUCA+1 membership program to heart, encouraging just one industry colleague to join NUCA. Last year, we achieved a healthy 6% growth, and with your help WE WILL surpass that number in 2021.
Participation can also be more direct. Our NUCA committees are stronger this year, and I am enthusiastic about our new Chapter Development committee and its potential for association growth. Just this year, we’ve seen two new chapters start up in Texas, and we’re looking at two more in other states. And Arizona UCA rejoined NUCA this year, further expanding our strength in numbers.
Participation means a stronger NUCA: together, we will continue to achieve real victories like the core infrastructure bill. More members mean more clout.
We can’t yet celebrate these additional resources being available, but we’ve all worked very hard together. We’ve hammered the point home with our elected officials through our advocacy efforts year after year that infrastructure is the foundation for a stronger economy. Now that our combined hard work has yielded results, are we done? Or should we consider the best ways to ensure our industry’s longevity for future generations? I put to you that this year’s victory will be seen as proof that a stronger NUCA means a stronger industry.
Our fall Washington Summit and Board meeting is scheduled to take place Nov. 2-3 in Washington, D.C. I hope to see you in Washington to finish the job and support your construction business and our essential industry.