In the March/April 2010 issue of Precast Inc., I wrote the “Last Gloom and Doom Column of the Year.” I was sick of telling you how bad the economy was and how long it was going to take for our industry to dig out, and I’m sure you were sick of hearing it. The forecast wasn’t great, and I didn’t think you needed to hear it from me at every turn. You were, after all, living it.
I’ve still done my fair share of forecasting in the three years since then, but you may have noticed a slow-building positive trend in my rhetoric lately. It’s cautious optimism because we’re on firm(er) ground, with a more realistic path to recovery.
Despite the futility in Washington, ongoing uncertainty about regulations and taxes, and the slow nature of the recovery, the U.S. can only go so long without a meaningful investment in our roads, bridges, water and wastewater systems, and so on. Our infrastructure, which was once the benchmark all other countries strove for, has tumbled all the way to 25th on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.
Lawmakers should ponder this, along with the fact that we are being outspent by China and other emerging economies big time when it comes to infrastructure. If we continue to ignore infrastructure, we risk national health, safety and economic growth. They simply cannot ignore it much longer. They’ll find a way to fund infrastructure work. When they do find a way to fund it, we’ll be waiting because we are the infrastructure people.
As investments are made in real, dirt-moving projects, there will be need for precast concrete – and lots of it. Are we ready as an industry? Are you ready as a supplier? I hope so. We know we have the best products for the job, now we just need to make sure the right people know that as well.
President, National Precast Concrete Association