In St. Pete, signs of a construction rebound - FOX 13 News

In St. Pete, signs of a construction rebound

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A construction rebound is underway in the Tampa Bay area, creating some concern about a possible labor shortage. So far, that concern is largely anecdotal.

"I'm seeing a lot more contractors calling, looking for help and we're getting a lot more notices from Craig's List that there are people hiring," said Mick Collins, a construction technology instructor at P-TEC.

Matching that demand: Interest in his one-year training program. Collins said his typical class of 25 students now hosts 40. That includes military veterans John Pearce and Vernon Estes, who are migrating from jobs in other fields.

"I've been noticing that the construction industry is starting to pick back up a little bit," Pearce said. Estes is confident he will find work after graduation.

"The possibilities are pretty good and I think the housing will come back up, I believe that," he said.

St. Petersburg's fiscal year started October 1st, and the value of permitted construction in FY13 already exceeds that of both FY10 and FY11. The $205 million in new construction includes several large apartment projects in downtown St. Petersburg and the Gateway area.

Economic development director David Goodwin noted many construction workers moved away when the local market tanked in 2007 and 2008.

"We had an actual dip in population from 2008 to 2010 and a lot of it had to do with the out-migration of folks who couldn't find work and had to go somewhere else to do it," Goodwin said. Another factor: "There was kind of a mature construction trade employee" during the last building boom, and Goodwin said "They've moved on- retirement comes, especially in construction, you need a younger body there."

Other communities are experiencing the same growth pains. St. Petersburg Building Official Rick Dunn said he polled his peers in the Bay area, and at least six cities are hiring more building inspectors.

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