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Success of the local building industry affects everyone

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Many business professionals are unaware how success or failure in the building industry affects everyone in the region. Yes, the San Diego employment base is heavily weighted with telecom, biotech, pharmaceutical and tourism. But no other single industry in San Diego casts such a wide net of influence on the economy as does the local building industry. Whether it is commercial, residential, or even mixed-use projects, the impact on our economy is substantial.

Just consider how many different companies are involved with the building of a new home. Most people just think of the subcontractors that build the actual home including framing, plumbing, electrical, painting, etc. But that doesn’t even come close.

Did you know that it takes more than 150 different companies and professions? For starters, the entire life cycle of a project includes land acquisition, entitlements, land development, construction, property management and maintenance over the life of the product. Those 150 companies translate to thousands of people with jobs. Multiply by the actual number of companies involved with construction, both directly and indirectly, and no other industry can claim to have such a dramatic influence on the local economy.

For the last five to seven years, San Diego has seen its economy suffer tremendously. Is it solely because the new construction industry was almost at a standstill? No, but it had a huge impact. Without a stable building industry, those thousands of individuals who were either out of work or working part-time were not spending their income on things that would actually help sustain the economy.

Fast forward to today, and finally, we see the building industry starting to recover again, albeit very modestly.

We won’t likely see the same activity as we did 10 years ago, but it’s moving to a more stable environment. Unfortunately, the industry still suffers from major hurdles when new projects are brought to the market, affecting both commercial and residential projects. The entitlement process, the path to construction approval, is still littered by too much “no value added” red tape. It’s the way of California, with its desire to regulate anything and everything. And, it’s been this way for years. Unfortunately, it’s just more visible when an industry is trying to climb its way out of a recession.

Fortunately, the Building Industry Association of San Diego County is working with many of San Diego’s cities and the county to help streamline the path to the creation of new projects.

As the BIA has done for more than 75 years, the association exists to solve issues by providing collaborative solutions that make good sense for everyone. These issues, which matter to commercial and residential, can include making housing more affordable to build, solve stormwater pollution, improve our mobility, create additional water availability, help impacted school districts house our students and build parks that anyone can use.

The BIA is eager to partner up with any organization that is solution-oriented, win-win and can-do oriented and has a heart for improving everyone’s quality of life.

A great example of this type of partnership is our collaboration with Coast Keepers on the new stormwater regulations that affect a great number of companies. New options are explored that will materially help clean up the environment with common sense approaches that also help prevent the cost of construction to sky rocket.

Even with about 700 company members belonging to the BIA, more members and more volunteers are always welcome and needed. The BIA is a volunteer-based organization. With only a few staff, the association engages its members to help with a great number of issues. It is a great way for members to be part of an association that truly moves the needle while providing professional exposure to potential new clients. There are many more issues that need attention. With more than a dozen opportunities to volunteer with councils and committees, the BIA has a place that fits every member’s interest.

For more information about the BIA, visit biasandiego.org.

Harris is the director of membership and advertising for the Building Industry Association of San Diego County. With about 700 company members, BIA San Diego is the largest single BIA chapter in California. For more information about the BIA, you can contact him directly at michael@biasandiego.org or (858) 514-7027.

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