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Source : Wikicommons
August 17, 2023
Author : Patty Allen
The Indianapolis downtown is all set to see a flurry of activities as construction projects worth $9.5 billion have been sanctioned for the next decade. But there is one hiccup to this epoch-making investment- the lack of skilled workers.
Since 2009, the Central Indiana construction labor pool has grown by 48%, reaching over 61,000 people. But construction companies are struggling since most current workers are past their prime, and there is no quality replacement for this aging workforce.
According to recent research, there are nearly 20 projects that will cost at least $100 million in the downtown area during the next 5 years. It includes the construction of the Signja by Hilton Hotel, the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center, and the Eleven Park development on the previous Diamond Chain manufacturing site.
Other constructions include the new Indiana University Health Hospital, the headquarters of Elanco Animal Health Inc. on the Western Bank of the White River, and the Bottleworks District.
However, there are numerous other projects on the schedule besides high-profile developments. The city's central area is a hub for multiple small-scale projects, from building renovations to roadwork and infrastructure.
Some ongoing projects in the city and throughout the state, including significant economic developments in Boone County, Kocomo, and New Carlisle, are connected to investments in trending sectors like advanced manufacturing and electric vehicle batteries.
Additionally, the state is competing for a semiconductor plant that would require an investment of over $50 billion and be a part of Lebanon's LEAP Innovation District.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is keeping track of $100 billion in prospective capital investment from projects that are still ongoing throughout the state. In addition, the Indiana Department of Transportation (IDOT) anticipates spending $5.2 billion on state roadways over the next two fiscal years.
Sean Maloy, the director of project management with the Indianapolis office of brokerage Colliers International in Toronto, said that if the state plans to keep the momentum of all the projects already underway and those in the pipeline, they must get out-of-state workers.
He also noted that several construction projects are underway in nearby areas such as Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Louisville, and St.Louis. This hyper-activity in the vicinity further impacts the construction ecosystem and labor shortage.
Although this isn't downtown Indianapolis' first significant Construction boom, Jason Smith, president of the Indian of State Building and Construction Trades Council, added that the city has not seen anything of this magnitude in the recent past.
So, what is the solution? Clearly, not shelving projects. The onus now lies with Indianapolis construction companies and how they can find more innovative ways to manage the rising labor demand while continuing to expand their employee base.
One way to attract newer people to this line of work is by creating mentorship opportunities, improving worksite culture, and increasing labor pay. The other method can be staggered work, since, not all work happens simultaneously in a construction site.
Watch this space to learn how Indianapolis uses this mammoth state-wide construction investment, its impact on the citizens and small businesses, and how they combat the issue of labor paucity.