Wanted: Contractors (The Belleville Telescope)

mix_and_match_logo

Ded Hadachek, Belleville Telescope Editor

Last week’s housing meeting in Republic County (see 1A of February 6th, 2014 edition) was exciting for the sheer number of citizens who attended
interested in the problem, as well as wealth of information
presented.

Communities that haven’t completed a Housing Needs
Assessment should get one post haste from the Republic
County Economic Development offi ce. As Luke Mahin
told the group, in most communities in Republic County a
few people could complete the assessment in short order-
-whether it’s a project of a Booster Club, coffee group, or
civic organization. The assessment not only gives people a
new way to look at their communities–but it shows investors
and state agencies that citizens are willing to be active
participants in the process to make their towns better.
But I couldn’t help but think at the meeting that there’s
another problem locally nobody really wants to talk about:
a shortage of contractors.

Republic County is home to some of the best builders,
electricians, plumbers and other tradesmen in the business.
But property owners also know there is a wait of
many, many months–even years–to start a home renovation
project, new construction, or put up outbuildings.
Let alone to actively pursue development of a multi-unit
project.

In the last week I’ve talked to three people who told me
they’ve hired out-of-county contractors for their projects-
-ranging from room renovations of a few thousand dollars
to brand new construction. All wanted to spend their
money with local contractors and suppliers. But all were
ready to move forward with projects now. All wanted to
work with one general contractor that would bid a complete
turnkey job.

With the North Central Kansas Technical College just
a few miles down the road at Beloit, we need to make
sure our young people know there are lucrative careers in
building trades. We need to encourage and help local contractors
to think about ways to expand their crews, grow
their businesses and bring on apprentices. And if you
have contractor friends who live in other areas who are
begging for work: invite them to consider Republic County
as a place to set up shop.

In this era of 24-hour home improvement television, people
have an abundance of ideas of ways to improve their
properties. Mahin pointed out there was $2 million worth
of construction through the Neighborhood Revitalization
program last year. It might have been more had there been
enough contractors to go around.