Readers Respond: IIJA is boosting business for many contractors

Readers Respond: IIJA is boosting business for many contractors

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Readers said they’re benefiting from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, but a lack of skilled labor and clarity around Build America, Buy America requirements is holding them back.

Published Aug. 11, 2023

President Joe Biden in front of the Brent Spence Bridge

President Joe Biden speaks to a crowd in front of the Brent Spence Bridge about his economic and infrastructure plans on Jan. 4, 2023, in Covington, Kentucky. The span received Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding.

Michael Swensen via Getty Images

Federal funding from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed in November 2021, is starting to flow to states and jurisdictions, but we wanted to know: Are our readers actually feeling any benefit from it yet?

Respondents said that is the case.

“I am sure the IIJA has increased my business now and for the future,” one person said in our Friday Feedback survey.

In recent earnings calls, CEOs of major infrastructure companies have also cited the positive impacts of the federal investment in the past quarter. Troy Rudd, CEO of Dallas-based AECOM, said he’s starting to see IIJA money come into the market for projects, and expects that to accelerate in the coming year. Alain Michaud, CFO of Montreal-headquartered WSP, said it “certainly has brought positive tailwinds to our business, the flow of funds is continuing to progress.”

However, getting and executing this kind of work is not without difficulties. A shortage of skilled labor continues to be a problem for the industry, and is likely threatening the success of the infrastructure investment.

According to one reader, “All my customers say that finding qualified workers is one of their biggest challenges. I also have the same problem finding welder/fabricators.”

Another challenge relates to the specific requirements that IIJA work entails, namely that a project’s iron, steel, construction materials and manufactured products be made domestically under the Build America, Buy America Act

“Delays by our government regarding definition of what constitutes Made in USA products [poses a challenge],” another respondent said. “Projects are being held up due to this lack of definition for equipment and construction materials, which makes it difficult for owners, contractors and manufacturers.”

That, in turn, is delaying potential positive impacts of the federal funding.

“Quoting and opportunity creation activity has been on an uptrend for months, but we don’t see revenue being impacted for manufacturers until summer of 2024 at the earliest due to the BABA definitions delay,” the respondent continued.

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