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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Report From Rhode Island: ERRA/SRA Addresses Challenges - Comes Up With Solutions, Shares Insight

By Shaun Meany
The PEiR Group

I attended the joint ERRA/SRA convention last week in Newport, RI. The turnout was lower than last year's gathering but the meeting was worthwhile for those of us who decided to attend.

The highlights, for me, were some good educational sessions along with the networking opportunities afforded by my many meetings with industry leaders.

The Keynote Speaker, Jessica Cox, set the tone for the convention with her "Don’t Let Adversity Stand In the Way of Success" messaging. Jessica is truly an amazing person. Born without arms she gave a straightforward, "take no prisoners" talk about her life and how she had overcome what many of us might think was impossible. Jessica drives and has actually gotten her pilot's license. If you think you're up against adversity in this challenging economy Jessica's message hits home. Think about those without work, or prospects, or who may never be in a position to own their own businesses. And then think about Jessica!

I also enjoyed the Construction Industry Forecast presented by McGraw Hill’s Robert Singerline. The outlook for 2010 is expected to be better than 2009 (thank God!) and there are definite bright spots ahead in 2010.

Singerline sees an increase in construction ahead for all all areas of the country in the coming year. South Atlantic, South Central and the West are all expected to see double digit growth. It is important to keep in mind that even with so rosy an outlook the industry is down so low that these positives really do not translate into big numbers - especially when compared to 2006 when construction was at its peak. Residential construction should signal the early stages of a recovery. Next year, Singerline says, there will be continued growth in government projects along with some institutional and non-building construction.

Other sessions I attended but will not delve into deeply (at least in this blog post) focused on Construction Project Delivery Methods and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). Construction is evolving and new methods (processes and contracts) are being adopted by owners, designers and contractors to maximize productivity and return on investment for stake holders. Check back to POV again for more information about these trends and what they might mean for you and your business.

There's a lot more to consider out there, lately, and I've been reading all of it. In a recent FMI report it was noted that: "As the construction industry responds to the changing economy, technology is expected to emerge as a leading factor that will alter the industry over the next five years. Although maintenance technologies such as GIS and GPS were rated among the least important factors to corporate owners this year, by 2014 technologies such as integrated project delivery will become significantly more important. Other influential factors changing the industry today include globalization, social norms, economics, politics and environmental concerns."

Whew! It's time to get ready and develop a plan to participate with these new initiatives or we might miss the boat!

No reprographics conference can be held without time for entertainment and socializing and Newport was no exception this year. The Newport "Mansion Crawl," where attendees visited incredible getaway “cottages” of the rich and famous, was fun - but humbling!

Next year the ERRA and SRA will formally merge into one organization. They'll be meeing under their new charter on November 3-5, 2010 in Norfolk, VA.

Beautiful part of the country, I hope to see you all there.

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