The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) last month unveiled a plan designed to revive the hardest hit sector of the economy: the nation's construction industry. The plan, “Build Now for the Future: A Blueprint for Economic Growth,” includes a mix of incentives, tax cuts, policy revisions, and infrastructure investments designed to reverse predictions that construction activity will continue to shrink through 2010.
“The problems facing the construction industry aren't just devastating construction workers, they are crippling our broader economy,” says Stephen Sandherr, AGC's CEO.
Sandherr says the recovery plan's primary focus is on stimulating new private-sector construction activity, which accounts for 70% of the market. The plan calls for repealing the alternative minimum tax and increasing and extending a series of tax credits and cuts—including the net operating loss carry back and the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts—to boost investments in real estate development.
Sandherr says new incentives on global investment in real estate are needed to make it easier for international investors to put Americans back to work. He says Congress should restore the President's “fast track” trade promotion authority and remove trade barriers to boost demand for new domestic manufacturing and shipping facilities.
The plan also calls for doubling of federal investments in transportation infrastructure, renovating dated and inefficient federal facilities, and investing in clean water, flood control, and navigation projects. It also calls for restoring the gas tax's lost purchasing power, encouraging more public-private partnerships, expanding the Build America bonds program, and exempting construction activity from the private activity bond cap.
AGC also identified regulatory revisions that would accelerate projects. These include streamlining environmental reviews, accelerating licensing of new nuclear power plants, and establishing a federal multiyear capital budget for public works.