In Holt nowadays, the hum of a chainsaw is the soundtrack of life. Home after home is under construction. Lot after lot is "office space" (so to speak) for hundreds of workers.
A new report from Capital Area Michigan Works highlights construction as a job of mid-Michigan's future. It will not be the cure-all for Michigan as manufacturing declines, but it will be an opportunity.
The industry is growing here as fast as healthcare, far faster than employment overall. At 38 percent growth, it's higher than Michigan statewide and higher than the nation. Plus, unlike so many other industries, it's a job that can't be outsourced overseas.
"It's hard to lay a road from another country if it's going through Holt, so we just need to talk to people so they understand the option," says Doug Stites, CEO of Michigan Works.
In addition to needing workers, the quality needs of the industry are changing. Training, like you can get on the West campus of Lansing Community College is becoming a must-have for people entering the industry.
"The technology has changed so much; we're using so many new materials," says Bill Luginsland, Professor of Building Technology at LCC. He teachers in new labs with new materials, and is working to create a new image for the industry of construction.
"We've gotta let people know they can make a good living," Luginsland says.
The average entry-level job pays more than $35,000 and there will be 1,200 openings in mid-Michigan by 2012.
The availability is so great there could be a shortage in the field. The hope is instead the construction field will end a shortage of jobs.