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Building Congress: advocate for jobs, city.

The New York Building Congress is uniquely a private-sector industry association that represents management and labor and all elements of the design, building and construction businesses.

In the past several years, because of the recession and the very soft economy in the Northeast, our consistent focus has been on proposing strategies and supporting efforts that will lead to the creation of industry jobs. In fact, though, for some 10 years with the help of our members we have primarily been an advocacy organization for the industry, for improving the quality of life in New York City, and for promoting sound economic development and programs that will help sustain the vitality of New York City and the region.

As part of these efforts, we strive to keep our members abreast of major industry, legislative, regulatory and economic issues by holding informational meetings and seminars, and by publishing monographs, articles and periodic newsletters. We also provide opportunities for our members to meet informally, to expand their business contacts, to make new business friends and to cement relationships With existing ones.

These are not tangential to our purposes, but necessary and important aspects of what we do. Several hundred building industry contractors participated recently in our 1993 day-long Sports Outing at the Westchester Country Club. And our members turned out strongly for our year-end Holiday Show. Both of these events are purely business-social, and they are always well-attended.

Our advocacy services for members range from representing them at hearings conducted by city, state and federal legislative panels and government agencies, to face-to-face meetings with top elected officials. We call these officials, write them and convey our points of view by mailgram. When we felt it was necessary a short while ago, we obtained their attention by organizing mass rallies with the help of our members, in particular the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and the building industry's business and professional organizations that are members of the Building Congress.

In this context, we are an umbrella organization for the industry and enable it to speak with one voice. Because of this unity, we have been able to open doors and maintain lines of communication with elected officials and regulators who influence developments in our industry.

Incidentally, a rally proved a successful tactic recently as we marched in City Hall Park in support of Donald Trump's $3 billion Riverside South mixed-use project. The City Council was holding hearings prior to voting on the project, and Building Congress, members also testified for the project during the hearings. Some 18,600 people-years of employment over a 10-year period were at stake.

A year ago we spoke out strongly for the proposed waste-to-energy facility to be built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We testified before various city agencies on this and, with some 10,000 jobs involved in the facility's development, we won. Subsequently, the project's opponents tried to defeat it in the state legislature. Again we marshalled our forces, business and labor, and again we won. Now, we hear the issue may arise indirectly in Congress and, if necessary, we will support the project in Washington as well. The Congress' advocacy purview extends to beyond New York's borders when jobs are involved. Recently, before the House Subcommittee on Economic Development in Washington, D.C., we urged increased spending for infrastructure. Last year, the Building Congress traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, to bring a similar message to then President-elect Clinton's transition spokespeople.

This summer we participated in a press conference of the Rebuild America Coalition and emphasized that the federal government has to come up with a public works program that is geared to the rebuilding of America's great cities. These are real jobs we were talking about. And real roads, real bridges, real parks and schools. We noted that despite the Mayor's strong commitment to maintaining a $4 billion-a-year Capital Budget, the city just doesn't have enough money to rebuild its infrastructure and keep our people working.

In recent months we have participated and.sponsored a number of meetings designed to bring jobs to the New York region. Some of these efforts were aimed at local developments, others reached further afield. In a close-to-home conference, we hosted a meeting with the New York City Department of Ports and Trades. This was keyed to methods of doing business with the department as it rebuilds the city's public food markets and facilities. Similarly, during another conference we met with Port Authority officials to identify job opportunities in the bi-state agency's $5 billion capital investment program.

We went much further afield for a "Taiwan and New York/New Jersey Design and Construction Industry Conference," but the focus was still on jobs. Together with the Port Authority of NY & NJ we hosted 40 high-ranking Taiwan government officials and industry leaders, focusing on Taiwan's six-year $600 billion infrastructure development program. During the meeting there were some 500 one-on-one meetings of New York/New Jersey contractors and the Taiwan delegates. Within a few months, a number of our regional firms were invited over for further negotiations.

Subsequently, the Building Congress and the Port Authority participated on a joint basis in the Tapei International Construction Show in Tapei, Taiwan.

The Building Congress, in concert with the New York Construction News, this year has been sponsoring a series of breakfast forums designed to focus on billions of dollars of upcoming construction projects and job opportunities. The forums were addressed by John Egan, then director of the New York State Dormitory Authority; Donald Trump, who discussed Riverview South; Commissioner Lucius J. Riccio of the New York City Department of Transportation who reviewed the impact of federal and state transportation funding on the city's own capital budget plans; and developer John T. Livingston of LCOR, Inc., which is proposing to develop a new $350 million Amtrak passenger terminal at Eighth Avenue, between 31st and 33st Streets.

In the fall, these forums will provide a platform for the candidates for the city's Mayoralty and Comptroller posts. We will have the chance to question them on their job-creating programs, and then, whoever wins, we will remind them of their promises.

On a different level, but just as necessary, the Building Congress also gets involved in nuts-and-bolts issues at meetings with government officials. Over the years, we have played a critical role in defeating counterproductive regulations, and provided leadership in a revision of the city's building code. More recently, members have met, with city agencies on payment and dispute resolution procedures. And this fall, our Public Procurement Committee and the City's Procurement Policy Board will jointly sponsor a fall seminar on the city's procurement policies and regulations.

If you are in the design and construction industry, we urge you to join with us, and with our 500 corporate, institutional and labor union members who comprise some 150,000 individuals. We are non-partisan and 70 years old, and we share your concern about a better tomorrow for the industry and for the city.
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Career Development; evaluation of New York Building Congress
Author:Hatfield, Heather
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Column
Date:Aug 18, 1993
Words:1165
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