February 21, 2024


Making a New Home

How did Construction Dive’s ‘mini megacities’ fare during the pandemic?

6 min read

In February of final yr, Construction Dive described on five “mini megacities” enduring commercial design booms. These mainly Midwestern cities have been making the most of an influx of development work, driven by booming work marketplaces and a low value of residing.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, shutting down entire industries like hospitality and aviation and forcing individuals to continue to be residence in purchase to assist gradual the spread of the novel coronavirus. Fortuitously, most states and local jurisdictions declared design an necessary support, so a lot of contractors were being ready to perform by the strictest of lockdowns, but some owners and builders place a halt to their creating plans or canceled them completely.

Now that the U.S. is extra than a yr into the COVID-19 outbreak, what occurred to development exercise in the mini megacities? Are they even now booming?

The superior information is that it seems that COVID-19 could not dampen enthusiasm for these cities nor what manufactured them boomtowns in the 1st spot. Below is where they stand now:

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Cedar Rapids Metro Financial Alliance


Cedar Rapids and its bordering communities are employed to dealing with — and conquering — difficulties. Assets-harming flooding has generally been an problem there. In point, in accordance to the city of Cedar Rapids, historic flooding and tornadoes in 2008 price the Federal Crisis Management Company $848 million, the agency’s sixth-major declaration ever. Complete residence damage was believed at $6 billion.

“We experience as a local community, if we can recuperate from the floods of 2008, we can satisfy any obstacle,” reported Ron Corbett, company retention and growth strategist at the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. “And which is the spirit which is in the in the neighborhood and certainly the business enterprise local community and the citizens.”

Cedar Rapids’ restoration from the COVID-19 pandemic, he mentioned, has been designed much easier since the condition was not as restrictive as others all through the pandemic when it arrived to shutting down specified sectors, so it has taken fairly much less time to bounce back again.

And businesses have retained the construction company fast paced there as they retain sinking their dollars into money tasks  — $539 million in the course of 2020. This consists of the “house operate,” Corbett claimed, of BAE Systems’ $139 million aerospace investigate, development and manufacturing facility.

“We sense like we’re virtually again to in which we were being,” he said.

Columbus, Ohio

Wikimedia Commons


The development enterprise in Ohio’s funds has experienced its share of ups and down given that the pandemic hit, explained Barton Hacker, president and CEO of Involved Builders and Contractors Central Ohio Chapter. 

From March until eventually about August of very last yr, contractors, component of an marketplace declared vital in Ohio, ended up busy “burning via” the area’s sizable backlog, he claimed. In August, having said that, entrepreneurs and builders began to pause some projects, major to a slowdown in making activity and worry about the future amongst numerous contractors.

Ironically, the high amount of activity throughout most of 2020 produced lots of contractors, who assumed they would have to have financial assistance to get via 2021, ineligible for the next round of Payroll Protection Program loans that expected evidence of a 25% drop in income. 

On the other hand, rapidly forward to March, Hacker explained, and lots of of the tasks that have been on hold restarted, and contractors are after all over again as active as at any time, barring some slowdowns in specified sectors like point out-funded university assignments and accommodations.

The major question, he explained, is how business construction will pan out.  Columbus is house to massive providers like Chase Mortgage loan that have made the decision to maintain some staff operating remotely, which has lowered their want for creating space.

But the continual stream of new residents into Columbus, which the pandemic did not halt, has designed a major demand on the household side, which includes significant-rise condominiums.

“Things are likely quite nicely in Columbus,” Hacker reported.

Nashville, Tennessee

Rick Diamond by using Getty Pictures


Nashville is yet another metropolis with a thriving building field inspite of the pandemic. The town issued $4.4 billion of developing permits among March 21, 2020, and March 20, 2021, in accordance to the Nashville Office of Codes and Constructing Security data. This is an maximize of extra than $400 million from the similar time period amongst 2019 and 2020. 

While residential building drove almost 50 % of these quantities, the relaxation represented a huge range of new business tasks, both new building and renovations.

In addition, tourism has not slowed down in Songs Metropolis, reported Clay Crownover, president and CEO of the Increased Tennessee Chapter of Involved Builders and Contractors, and new inhabitants are relocating to Nashville in droves, pushed in part by somewhat small taxes and company work.

“There were a several shutdowns, but [those projects] ended up back up and rolling pretty rapidly,” he mentioned.

What carries on to be a problem, though, is finding adequate qualified workers, Crownover explained. To that conclusion, his ABC chapter is expanding its apprenticeship method so that it can coach more personnel. The chapter is about to graduate 96 pupils, had a lot more than 425 enrolled this year and desires to expand to help 625.

“Hopefully, we get much more guys and ladies into our technique so we can train them and get them used,” he reported.

Omaha, Nebraska

Retrieved from Wikipedia on April 19, 2021


Omaha, explained Jean Petsch, govt director of the Affiliated Normal Contractors of America’s Nebraska Constructing Chapter, was another city that had a pause in building toward the start out of the pandemic but returned to ordinary action soon thereafter, mostly thanks to a governor that confined limits and shutdowns and selected development an necessary provider.

And like other cities where construction was considered critical, there was a short pause as contractors established how to continue to keep staff safe and sound though still transferring forward with their operate, Petsch stated.

Apart from that, there have not been any real swings in development action, she mentioned.

“We don’t have huge highs, but the flipside is we really don’t have huge lows both,” Petsch mentioned.

And with all that goes hand in hand with currently being a development boomtown will come the necessary maintenance, repairs and growth of roadways, highways and bridges, claimed Katie Wilson, government director of the AGC Nebraska Chapter, whose users perform that horizontal operate.

Assignments are reasonably effectively funded but must get a raise from the American Rescue Program Act, she mentioned.

Wilson did not comment on particularly how substantially would be applied for point out DOT assignments but told Construction Dive that the condition DOT has stated that some will go toward infrastructure preservation and routine maintenance. Just about every U.S. state is established to receive $100 million and can use the dollars for design projects or other initiatives considered vital.

1 dilemma Omaha does have — one that it shares with lots of other cities across the state — is a lack of materials availability.

“[It’s] the most significant headache have from the previous year,” Wilson claimed.

Rochester, Minnesota

Perkins Eastman


As considerably as pandemic restoration goes, it doesn’t harm to have 1 of the most identified and revered names in healthcare — the Mayo Clinic — as the driver of financial action. In truth, according to Patrick Seeb, executive director of the Spot Healthcare Centre Financial Growth Agency, Mayo employs additional than 30% of Rochester’s 110,000 citizens. The DMC undertaking is a 20-12 months initiative that will see Mayo, non-public builders and the state of Minnesota invest billions in the development of a global healthcare location.

When the pandemic first strike, nevertheless, there was a ton of uncertainty about what it would signify for the town as Mayo canceled elective surgeries and treatments in purchase to get prepared for a opportunity “onslaught” of COVID-19 individuals, he mentioned.

“Mayo Clinic experienced to put together for the unidentified in terms of COVID conditions and the influence that the coronavirus would have on cure protocols,” Seeb mentioned.

This resulted in a 3- to four-thirty day period pause of about 100 building projects totaling $150 million, he claimed. But by June, it was obvious that the quantity of hospitalized individuals would not be as significant as originally feared, so Mayo resumed elective processes and development projects restarted.

Seeb credits Mayo’s deep cutbacks at the starting of the pandemic as one particular of the causes that the wellness system was equipped to resume its construction plan so swiftly, and he will not count on any major delays as those jobs continue on.

In reality, standard contractor and developer Mortenson broke floor on its 2nd main project in the DMC in September, and, last month, non-public expenditure in the DMC surpassed $1 billion.

“I would say that in Rochester, what persons have arrive to realize is that our financial state is so robust, in spite of a pandemic, because of Mayo Clinic getting the engine,” Seeb stated.

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