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  Top 20 Public Construction Projects of 1998

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Top 20 Public Construction Projects of 1998
January 21, 1999

The region's future depends on top-notch infrastructure

By PHIL BROWN
DJC Publisher

Hyundai Terminal
Hyundai Termial
Photo by Aequalis Photography

It's no secret that the state's economy is booming. Business has been great the last few years and 1999 should be another good year in the Central Puget Sound area.

Any potential trouble in our future?

Boeing's layoffs will slow the region's growth somewhat, although not enough to end the boom times. The aerospace giant is going through some tough times now, but the company remains one of the world's greatest manufacturers and it will prosper for years to come.

Asian contagion? We will feel Asia's pain. Apple producers will be hit, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma may be impacted and Boeing will see lower sales than the firm had forecast a few years earlier, but Asia will bounce back. Asia has grown so fast over the last few decades that it is only natural for a recession there to linger. That region will once again produce growth rates that will be the envy of the world.

The antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft? Even if Microsoft loses, which is far from certain, the software goliath will continue to sell billions of dollars worth of software every quarter and rack up profits that the entire "Internet" industry can only dream about. Microsoft and the area's other high-tech firms will continue to add thousands of well-paid jobs to the region for years to come.

For the Puget Sound region, this is the golden age. Everything is working right: New museums, sports venues, symphony hall, downtown retail development. It's all coming together for the area. Our one stumbling block? Transportation.

Even with Sound Transit and Referendum 49, moving goods and people around the region remains our most difficult challenge. But with challenge comes opportunity. Transit projects already funded will help keep the construction industry busy. And that means jobs. It is also a chance to try to spread out development and bring some of the Seattle area's prosperity to other parts of the state.

A good example of the this is Redmond-based Genie Industries which plans to build a large manufacturing facility in Moses Lake. The firm, which makes lifts and booms for aerial work, currently employs about 2,000 workers at its Redmond plant. The company grew by 40 percent last year, but is being hemmed in by building moratoriums and the growth of Microsoft. If Genie's plans go through, the firm would hire up to 1,300 people to run the Moses Lake facility.

A vibrant business climate forms the backbone for public construction. Without the tax revenue generated by business, our public institutions - everything from roads to schools to libraries - would begin to crumble. Business and government institutions need each other to maintain a prosperous environment. While government relies on the tax revenue generated by companies and their employees, business needs the government's help too. A world-class infrastructure is necessary for a region to maintain or improve its prominence.

Top-notch treatment plants, water supply, roads and schools are all necessary for our region to meet the challenges of the next century. Design and construction work done on public projects today will have a lasting impact on the area.

Municipal public works departments along with the region's engineers, architects, suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors are creating the infrastructure for the next century. It is paramount that all the players strive to build the best they can build.

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