Finding the right people to do business with can be like finding the right friend — but what qualities make a great friend? For starters, you want loyalty, right? Everyone wants a friend that has their back. But you also want a friend that’s fun. Someone who can not only support you in your endeavors but make the journey that bit more entertaining. Well, to the people at AGC of Mississippi, their members are not just members, they are friends. Not only will they advocate for their members by supporting and fighting for the issues that impact them, but they also know how to have a little fun while doing it.
The Associated General Contractors (AGC) has a long history in the construction industry that spans over 100 years. Classing themselves as the voice of the construction industry, the AGC are committed to improving physical environment through the principles of skill, integrity, and responsibility. However, the AGC is made up of multiple chapters dispersed throughout America, with Mississippi originally having more than one.
AGC of Mississippi was initially made up of 3 separate chapters: AGC Coast Chapter, AGC Central Chapter and AGC Utility and Infrastructure Chapter. However, after some negotiations with the board at that particular time, the Coast and the Central Division merged and became AGC of Mississippi — later followed by the Utility and Infrastructure chapter. Now, each chapter functions under the umbrella term of AGC of Mississippi, which has benefitted the association, especially with recruiting members.
The most important aspect of AGC of Mississippi is the association’s members. They are at the forefront of everything the association does. When AGC of Mississippi is not lobbying or advocating on a federal level for their members, they are planning on hosting continuous networking events across the state. Executive Director at AGC of Mississippi, Bob Wilson, is more than familiar with the events hosted by AGC of Mississippi and the magnitude of work that is done on behalf of its members.
“We have crawfish boils. We have 401k Skeet and Trap Shoot. We have fish fries on the coast, we have drop in socials that are all around the state. We have membership dinners on the coast where we have featured speakers. We have a weekly and a quarterly newsletter. We have an AGC online plans room that is available to our members. We have two offices in the state, one here and one in Gulfport and both of those have meeting and training facilities and conference centers. So those are available to our members at no cost. And then that’s where we also put on our educational programs which is another benefit as well.”
While it may all sound like fun and games at AGC of Mississippi, the reality is somewhat more serious. The people and businesses of Mississippi have endured great challenges in recent times. For instance, Mississippi struggled due to effects of economic recession and the recovery from this was a slower process than other areas in the country. Unfortunately, as the state’s economy was returning to previous levels, the pandemic hit. With members continuing to work through this time, the association itself was forced to shut down completely which greatly affected member recruitment and retention.
“The most important aspect of AGC of Mississippi is the association’s members. They are at the forefront of everything the association does.”
The usual advocacy work carried out by AGC of Mississippi became difficult to accomplish due to restrictions and safety measures, but there were more pressing issues at hand. The construction industry began to face a supply shortage which prevented work from being done. Alongside this, a workforce development problem developed which left the construction industry — along with many other industries — in an unfortunate situation that the state is still processing.
Mississippi’s Governor had declared construction work essential during the pandemic. This meant the state did not suffer as much economically as other states, but it also meant that materials were in high demand. Bob touched upon a very valid point in our conversation regarding this issue and suggested the pandemic was not the cause of all the supply issues.
A lot of truck drivers who were responsible for delivering materials were suddenly out of work and in search of other jobs. When business began to pick back up, suppliers did not have the same resources on hand to deliver materials to the people of Mississippi. This then led to project times being dragged out, which in turn caused serious financial strains on all parties involved. These were the types of issues that members were raising at board meetings, and is why AGC of Mississippi is now so excited about the introduction of the infrastructure bill.
“The state was appropriated $1.8 billion a couple of years ago. In 2022, at the end of the session, they spent about $300 million of that $1.8 billion in infrastructure funds to projects that were all over the state and were shovel ready. And they went ahead and got that done. That leaves $1.5 billion to be appropriated in 2023. So now that they’ve got all this other stuff out of the way, I think our members are going to be extremely happy when that $1.5 billion comes to play.”
AGC of Mississippi is continuously pushing for updates regarding the infrastructure bill because the association understands the potential impact this bill will have for its members. AGC ofMississippi has highway construction members and wastewater construction members that will benefit from the bill immediately. However, the bill also impacts people outside of AGC of Mississippi too. These highways that are being built open doorways for commercial developments and allow for new businesses to flourish. Injecting investments into the construction industry ultimately provides Mississippi with an opportunity to build and grow together as a state.
“With all the stimulus money and with our state being open up, our individual state revenues coming into our general fund just went nuts. And for the last two years, we’ve been 50-60% ahead of our projections. So last year during the recession, they had $900 million in excess funds, in addition to the infrastructure funds that was appropriated to smaller construction projects, to public buildings, to expansion of public buildings and repairs and maintenance to public buildings. So those are the things that are really helping a larger part of our membership.”
AGC of Mississippi’s goal is to create a better business climate for the construction industry in Mississippi and to serve as a spokesperson for the industry. In order to do this, AGC of Mississippi are currently developing a leadership council to help appeal to a younger demographic. The association is looking for participants under 40 that either work for construction companies or have their own, because they believe that young people come at things differently and are the future of the association.
If the previous pandemic years the world has experienced have taught us one thing, it is that when people come together for a common goal, anything can be achieved. And ultimately, that is what the AGC of Mississippi is, a collection of people who share a common goal. So, whether you are considering joining for business reasons, or simply for the networking aspect, you can be sure of one thing: If you are in Mississippi, you have a friend in the AGC.