STUDY: Memphis one of fastest growing construction markets, thousands of job openings

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis is one of the fastest growing markets in the country right now for construction, according to recent statistics from the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America.

This is great news for our economy as new businesses are coming, but they’re in need of workers to help with these projects.

There was a 25 percent decline in construction employment from October 2007 to October 2010. Now the industry is thriving.

Just in the past year, there’s been a 13 percent increase in jobs, which is the highest it’s been in about ten years.

“There are literally thousands of job opportunities just in Memphis alone,” said Don Sloan, a project manager with Chris Woods Construction Company and board member of AGC of America.

He says at Chris Woods Construction, they’re staying busy across the city and showed us one of their current projects downtown: The First United Methodist Church.

It burned down in 2006 and it’s been a lengthy road to recovery as the economy took a hit.

“This was such an iconic structure, a beautiful structure and it was gone.”

But now they’re helping rebuild the historic church, making big improvements in the past six months.

Overall, contractors say multi-family housing, apartments, warehouses and distribution facilities are the most popular projects going up right now.

But with thousands of job openings, they’re wanting to get new blood on these work sites.

“Our hope is to get more right out of high school, but that’s going to take some time,” said Sloan.

He says starting wages and benefits are competitive in construction, and the ability to advance is high.

Contractors say new technology and equipment is changing the game as well.

“The industry is using drones, it’s experimenting with brick laying robots, it has 3D printers,” said Ken Simonson, AGC of America chief economist. “It’s really a lot of exciting changes going on.”

They hope to get motivated people in the door who will feel pride in building projects and in cases like the First United Methodist Church, help them rise from the ashes.

They’re also trying to get a presence in some of our schools, to connect with kids who may want a future in construction.

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