Construction Considered ‘Essential’ Business in Many US Regions

During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments local and federal have asked nonessential businesses to close or suspend operation. Many states are considering construction as essential—and the industry hopes to take that to the federal level.

Construction during the pandemic has continued to operate amid the current pandemic in many states, if industry officials can persuade government to consider various aspects of the industry as “essential” business.

Trade associations, like the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the Association for Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) and Equipment Dealers Association (EDA) are all advocating for various facets of construction to be exempt from existing and potential public health policies that would cause work shortages. These potential work shortages could mean economic hardship for workers as well as general industry consequences, explains one article.

The construction industry has looking past state governments to save the industry during this time. On March 18, AGC joined a number of other business groups in calling on Congress to enact a number of tax-related measures to safeguard companies, regardless of size, during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes policies like immediately providing accessible, unsecured credit to businesses, suspending the filing of business returns and the payment of all business taxes, and amending the Tax Code to, among other items, restore the ability of businesses to carryback any net operating losses against previous year tax payments.

The AGC says it believes these measures will significantly help minimize the number of businesses closed and workers unemployed during this time and ensure that all businesses have the resources necessary to rise out the pandemic.

“As our nation confronts the unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we call on the nation’s governors to recognize the essential role that equipment manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and service technicians play in feeding our people, connecting our nation, and powering our homes and hospitals,” said Dennis Slater, president of AEM.

“As our nation’s governors take steps to protect Americans from the spread of COVID-19, AEM and our industry partners urge them to consider the essential role that our industry plays to the health and economic well-being of communities across the country.”

While many regions and states have excluded construction companies from general requests that office personnel be considered “non-essential,” the construction industry still seeks a formal characterization as “essential,” alongside healthcare providers and grocery stores.

Many argue that the construction industry is essential for its larger, infrastructure projects as well as its smaller maintenance tasks, such as upkeeping machinery and equipment for other essential settings like hospitals, buildings and agricultural efforts.

In letters to all 50 governors, AEM, AED and EDA affirmed their commitment to the health and safety of the country, as well as the need to safeguard the nation’s equipment production, distribution, and maintenance capability, stating:

“As our nation continues to confront the ongoing and evolving challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge you to consider the essential role that equipment manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and service technicians play in guaranteeing a steady supply of U.S.-produced food, fiber, feed, and fuel, maintaining our nation’s roads and bridges and other important infrastructure assets, and keeping the nation’s energy infrastructure secure and resilient.”

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