Local construction projects don't mean all local jobs

Local construction projects don't mean all local jobs »Play Video
Crews work on the Eisenhower High School project.
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Construction and jobs go hand in hand.

Here in Yakima, we see projects of all sizes. Despite the work being done locally, not all of it is done by people who live here. KIMA found out that sometimes only a fraction of it stays local.

Bob Lounsbury installs cabinets inside Creekside Apartment complex expansion project here in Yakima.

"I love what I do," said carpenter Bob Lounsbury.

Bob has been a carpenter here in Yakima for almost 40 years. Work used to be steady, now he jumps from job to job that last days, weeks if he's lucky. He gets paid half what he used to make.

"I'm seeing people get less and less for the same skill and that's going the wrong direction as far as I'm concerned," Lounsbury said.

You can see the direction Bob doesn't like at various construction projects around the Valley. Big commercial jobs like the J.C. Penney and Cabela's in Union Gap. Or, the multi-million dollar government job at Eisenhower High School.

All three are managed general contractors from out of town. Bob argues that puts workers like him at a disadvantage.

"Instead of hiring the locals to fill his crews, he brings in people from his hometown."

"Absolutely, it limits the people," said general contractor Charlie Eglin.

Charlie Eglin runs Tri-Ply Construction here in Yakima. He admits workers like Bob might miss out on some opportunities, but the process is fair and companies are going to hire contractors that deliver the lowest responsible bid.

"We have the same opportunity to bid work in Spokane, Seattle and bring subcontractors with us," Eglin said.

It goes both ways. There are sizable jobs with general contractors from the area. This apartment complex and the new movie theater in Downtown Yakima.

It's also true that local contractors can't compete on the big projects like the Eisenhower job. That's because they can't afford the pay and performance bond insurance required to enter a bid.

KIMA spoke with the Eisenhower job site manager who says up to 60 percent of all the work there will be done by locals.

So, why should you care?

Well, out of town workers will spend most of their salary where they live and not boost the economy here.

"I feel that we're losing out, but I don't know what we can do about it," Eglin said.

"I don't know that there's any solution, but I see that it's starting to have an effect on the ability to find work," Lounsbury said.

All Bob can do is keep drilling and hope more work comes his way.