State’s construction forecast points to a strong economy, advocates say

Leah Mishkin, Correspondent | November 9, 2018

A new taxation building, a new health building and ongoing State House renovations.

“Which is a 4-year project. Right now they’re doing asbestos remediation,” said state treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio.

She said these are some of the projects in the works for downtown Trenton.

“The projects the Treasury is involved in over the next couple of years approaches roughly a billion dollars in spend,” said Muoio.

“I believe our projections are higher than they have been in the past. It has a lot to do with bond funds that were approved for several projects. HUD funding that’s in place to help support those projects. And also just initiatives that are taking place,” said Jamie Langsdorf, deputy director of the Office of Design and Construction at the Treasury Department. “We’ve implemented an energy savings improvement program, we have an energy master line of credit and that allows us to do a lot of infrastructure upgrades.”

Over 20 public and private agency leaders went over their capital plans at the annual New Jersey Alliance for Action construction forecast seminar.

The group’s president Philip K. Beachem says construction is a good way to take a pulse on where the economy is heading.

“You’re talking about a significant amount of money that gets pumped into the overall New Jersey economy. It creates tax revenues for the state, it creates jobs for individuals,” Beachem said.

“Workers are off the bench and they’re at work, contractors are making money, consultants are busy and making money, also. With that, suppliers are selling products, and then everybody that’s involved with that’s buying goods,” Langsdorf said. “So the economy is something that certainly on a global level, at least in New Jersey, if we’re busy with construction it feels the effect.”

This year construction leaders forecast $45 billion in upcoming construction work in 2019 and 2020. That’s a 2 percent increase from last year’s forecast.

“It will be good news for the state of New Jersey because it will allow the state to collect additional revenue. It’s always good to collect revenue when people are working. People don’t mind paying taxes when they’re employed, contractors clearly want to have a stability to their work so they don’t have to lay people off,” Beachem said.

The New Jersey Alliance for Action says New Jersey transportation agencies, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and New Jersey utilities contributed most to the overall spending projections.