By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
A crowd of more than 200 attendees covering the gamut of the construction and building trades filled the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn’s Arizona Ballroom Wednesday, Oct. 5 to see the ins and outs of working with the public sector and uncover new opportunities at the inaugural AZBEX Public Works Conference.
Guests were treated to 10 presentations covering a range of issues from K-12, infrastructure investment, upcoming projects and how-tos and best practices for finding and winning opportunities in the thriving public sector.
Following registration and a networking lunch, Assistant State Senate Minority Leader, Senator Steve Farley provided opening comments. He shared with attendees his background both as a public servant and as an artist who has contributed work to public projects, including photo murals in Tucson and downtown Phoenix.
According to Farley, every $1B of infrastructure investment generates approximately 19,000 jobs in Arizona. He criticized the ongoing diversion of Highway User Revenue Funds over the past several years away from infrastructure and public works projects as well as the policy of providing tax breaks that eliminate potential revenue for infrastructure development, citing the lack of available funds as a key reason for the slowness of the state’s economic recovery.
Wrapping up his presentation, Farley noted the key to incentivizing jobs now and in the future is greater investment in infrastructure by state leadership and Arizona companies.
Closing remarks: The need for gratitude
David Martin, president of the Arizona Chapter of Associated General Contractors, thanked the attendees, speakers and panelists for their time and reminded the room of the importance of relationships and appreciation for everyone involved in the development process.
“Be grateful to the taxpayer and those who pay the user fees,” he said, commenting that without them, there would be no public works projects.
Martin added that attendees should also appreciate their role and the roles of their partners and peers throughout the process, saying it’s because of them people have water in their homes, electricity and roads to drive on.
“All of us, collectively, are important to this process,” he said. “Thank your neighbor, and they have to thank you, too.”