Being in the construction business, I tend to notice job site trailers maybe a little more than the next guy. As I drove past the Corbin Park development at 135th Street and Metcalf Avenue recently, I saw a familiar sight: lots of construction trailers with names I didn’t recognize from cities far away.
I suppose this is part of the industry, especially common in Kansas as a right-to-work state (and soon to become more familiar in Missouri since it passed the same similar legislation earlier this year). So it makes me especially proud to be part of the hometown team led by Burns & McDonnell, hoping to build a new terminal for KCI.
For more than 20 years, my company Infinite Energy Construction has been a part of the small business fabric that makes our city strong, and we’ve helped build a variety of residential and commercial projects throughout the metro area that have improved and strengthened the area for all of us.
We witnessed a lot of hometown pride when Burns & McDonnell first threw their hat in the ring for this new airport, but they really solidified their commitment to Kansas City when they put together this team of hometown contractors just weeks before submitting their official proposal to the City Council.
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We share Burns & McDonnell’s passion for our hometown, as they expressed in their proposal:
“When we finish the work week, we won’t be on a plane back home because Kansas City is our home — we work and live here. This is not just a job for us. … We have been here since the beginning, will be here when it is done and remain in the years to follow, using the new single-terminal airport every day.”
Yes, we’re glad to be part of the team that may win a massive project. But the team approach really boils down to a good business decision for the city.
First, it keeps the dollars local. Unlike those out-of-state companies at Corbin Park, the companies on this hometown team are homegrown, which means the money paid to them stays here. Their employees live here, work here and spend here. They purchase services and goods from other local companies, who pay other local employees. The ripple effect is almost endless.
And the numbers are substantial. Right now, the project is estimated at $1 billion. The electrical portion — which IEC would contribute to — should be about 20 percent of that work. That’s $200 million in just electrical work, and it will go to local electrical contractors.
Dividing up the work among local firms also minimizes risk. It’s just smart business to not put all of your eggs in one basket. Burns & McDonnell knows that by spreading the work among many local companies, they not only draw on the talent and expertise of a wide swath of professionals, but they also protect the project and investment from missteps by any of one of those firms.
A billion-dollar project brings with it a significant amount of work, which means you’re going to have a massive draw on resources — qualified and skilled people, equipment and material, and capital. Any firm has to ensure it’s well-positioned across all three points in order to perform well.
Even with a project as large as this one, there’s still going to be work that needs to be done in town. By spreading the load and burden of resources among 20 local companies, we ensure that we continue to take care of Kansas City, which means less need to bring in outside companies to do the work.
Among all of us on the hometown team, there’s a great feeling of pride and unification that’s really exciting. Normally we’re all competing for work, but this project has given us all a sense of teamwork and civic pride.
This new airport is in our backyard and will have a profoundly positive effect on our local economy, our business growth and our everyday lives. You better believe our hearts are definitely in this one.
Nilson Goes is chief of operations and general manager at Infinite Energy Construction.