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Denver Moves to Encourage Local Hiring as Colorado Construction Industry Pushes to Hire 30,000

Construction companies across Colorado are looking to hire as many as 30,000 to keep up with demand. In Denver specifically, projects are getting underway worth as much as $4 billion. 

Meantime, Denver City Hall is looking to use that increased activity as a way to ensure people in economically disadvantaged areas are employed in the industry.

Via the Denver Post: 

The City Council on June 11 approved a $275 million site-preparation contract — the first nine-figure deal for the National Western Center project — that requires Hensel Phelps Construction and its subcontractors to recruit heavily from the city’s six most economically disadvantaged ZIP codes, largely southwest and northeast of downtown.

For now, the requirements in the pilot program stop short of setting local-hiring quotas or even targets, and it’s considered a bit of a dry run.

But if the initiative is successful at training residents and placing them in project jobs, it could portend more aggressive steps by the City Council and Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration to extract local job benefits on some upcoming projects.

Roughly 170,000 people work in construction across the state right now. Colorado State University conducted a study that found construction needs to find as many as 14,000 additional positions in the next five years to keep up with demand while replacing baby boomers who are retiring from the business. 

The projects on the books will require huge manpower. Again, from the Post: 

Among projects that could get consideration for city local-hiring goals are a planned $233 million expansion of the Colorado Convention Center and many building projects that are part of the $937 million bond package approved by voters last fall. And more big contracts are coming in the city’s $765 million portion of the National Western project. That site also is expected to sprout additional, unbudgeted building projects in later phases of the campus build-out.

Denver International Airport’s $1.5 billion gate-addition project recently broke ground, and this summer, its $650 million terminal renovation — part of a $1.8 billion public-private partnership deal — will get underway. The ink on those contracts has already dried, without the same targeted recruiting provisions, but the contractors are expecting to hire heavily in the metro area.

The National Western Center project calls for the city, CSU and the Western Stock Show Association to expand the existing stock show complex into a 250-acre, year-round tourism, event, education and agricultural innovation center, a project that will go well into the 2020s.

The 275 million site-prep contract for that National Western Center will be the first to require outreach for hiring in lower-income areas of the city. 

The full report from the Post is here.