Perhaps I don’t have enough parallel experiences, but I’ve been impressed by the scale and scope of communications/community within the North Carolina construction industry and the truly effective methods to bridge public and private interests at state-level conferences.
In October, I attended the North Carolina Federal Construction Infrastructure and Environmental (FEDCON) Summit in Wilmington (on the state’s east coast). Yesterday, I visited the 33rd annual State Construction Conference at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Both events brought together hundreds — upwards of 1,000 at the latest event — contractors, subtrades, architects, engineers and government officials together for some intensive educational, networking, and social opportunities.
Some of the content at yesterday’s conference was dry as a bone; really, it is hard to get too excited about how to complete government reporting forms. Other stuff, however, had vitally important insights — including the advent of new public/private partnership legislation that seeks to balance the needs for innovation with competition, and seeks a reasonable balance between qualification and price-based bidding, while ensuring that all projects are properly designed to induce competitive bidding (rather than allowing sole-source PPP proposals to slip through the system.)
The success of these events suggests they would be quite effective in other states/markets, and they may be happening. There is no reason, of course, for this sort of state-based initiative to be promoted beyond its primary audience, so I may simply not be on the list for information elsewhere. Accordingly, I welcome your comments or emails if you have similar events and activities in your own state/community.
I’ll publish content from this conference in North Carolina Construction News, of course.
If North Carolina is truly the only place doing this sort of thing, I think others could learn and possibly emulate the model.