Saturday, October 1, 2011

Build Faster, Grow Jobs!

published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Oct 1, 2011 

Unedited version:

Build Faster, Grow Jobs
Deepak Seth

Working downtown and the nice weather spell gives me an opportunity to step out during lunchtime and take a quick stroll soaking in the ambience of our beautiful city. Some of the beauty you can see with your eyes while some of it you have to imagine with your mind's eye, visualizing what it would be like when all the construction is completed.

This brings me to my current pet peeve, why is the construction so slow? Why do these projects seem to take forever? I have come back to downtown after 2 years, things look different but not as much as I had expected. In the 1930's I believe a 22 floor section of the Empire State Building was built in as many days. More recently Chinese bloggers set the construction world abuzz after posting a video of a 15 story hotel being built in 6 days. Downtowns in many boom cities – Shanghai, Dubai, Singapore seem to be transforming literally overnight as frequent visitors gawk at the changes since they last visited a few weeks or days ago.

By fast construction I do not mean shoddy construction or work which violates safety guidelines. But definitely faster than the snail’s pace at which our downtown projects trudge along. As a layperson to me it seems faster construction will result in more jobs at a time when they are most needed. Also will help in making the building operational faster resulting in quicker return on investment as well as create more downstream jobs. On the flip side slow construction is a double whammy as not only it keeps jobs down it also blocks resources which could be better used elsewhere.

Is lack of funding an issue? I would think that rather than releasing more funds for projects yet in the blueprint stage it would make more sense to open the spigot for the ones which are already in progress.

Most surveys indicate that lack of jobs is listed by most as the number one issue plaguing the economy today. Speeding up the progress on our construction jobs and bringing the speed on par with international norms should help bring about a quicker influx of much needed jobs to the local economy

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