Letter from Chris Shea, MITA Board President

TO:         MITA Members
FROM:   Chris Shea, 2012 MITA Board President
DATE:    October 15, 2012

Dear Fellow MITA Member,

Once again fall is upon us. That joyous time of year where we in the construction industry pull our hair out dealing with the unpredictable Michigan weather and scramble to meet completion dates. I hope the season has been, and will continue to be, a safe one where all jobs come in on budget and on time.

It is also election season. While it is important that we all exercise our right to vote, this year’s elections take on even more significance than recent ones as they relate to our industry. Not only is there the national election for president but a host of local elections where we will decide who will represent us in Lansing in the next Legislative session. In addition to electing the individuals that represent us, there are a number of ballot initiatives to vote on as well. Many of them have a direct impact on the construction industry. I urge you to become informed on them and vote accordingly. Contact Lance Binoniemi at the MITA office for any questions you may have regarding the proposals. Their outcomes will have a lasting influence on the amount of work we have to bid on for years to come.

As you know, the condition of Michigan’s infrastructure is in serious decline. Our state has been in the bottom ten states per capita in infrastructure spending for nearly two straight decades. Given that fact and the fact that we have one of the harshest climates beating on our roads and bridges, it’s not hard to figure out why the condition of Michigan’s infrastructure is considered in the bottom five of all states.

Along with the declining condition of Michigan’s infrastructure has been the declining health of many of those companies who build it. Collectively, we have a continually declining work force, significant excess capacity and given the unpredictable levels of work to bid on, an environment where it is impossible to do long-term planning to replace or improve our fleet of equipment.

Mike Nystrom and Lance Binoniemi have been lobbying tirelessly in Lansing to get our message out. They have been informing our governmental leaders not only the condition of our industry, but more importantly how vital Michigan’s infrastructure is to the long-term success of the state’s economy. They have brought the message that the increased expense to a motorist in the form of higher gas taxes and/or registration fees will be more than offset by reduced expenditures for repairs on their cars and an increased value to their vehicle when it comes time to sell it. In the end, a motorist will see a profit to paying more to improve the condition of our roads and bridges. And that doesn’t even take into account the savings of lives that would occur as well.

Many contractors have participated in the legislative process. If you are one of the active people, keep it up and even increase your efforts. If you are not, the time to get involved is now. We are entering the fourth quarter of the game and it is close. Increased infrastructure funding is not a done deal, nor is it a dead deal. What happens in the next few months will decide it. Eventually, every legislator will have to cast a vote for it or against it.

It is imperative that all MITA members get in touch, face to face, with their elected officials. Explain the importance of Michigan’s infrastructure to your individual company and to the state as a whole. Explain to them that every motorist will be money ahead in the long run and that lives will be saved if they take the necessary steps to fix the problem created by years of underinvestment. MITA has all the facts in short, one-page documents that will give you all the information you need to talk about. In addition, MITA has hired a new Outreach Coordinator, Michelle Van Wert. She can assist you in setting up meetings. You can meet at your legislator’s office or better yet, arrange to have them come to your location.

As previously stated, the time is now. The effort we collectively put forth will decide whether or not there is any increase in infrastructure funding. It would be a shame if in the end we are unsuccessful and had not put forth maximum effort. Be part of a successful outcome. GET INVOLVED.

Thank you for your time and best of luck bringing the 2012 construction to a safe and profitable end.