Who Advocates for the Construction Industry?

Earl R. Hall, Executive Director – Syracuse Builders Exchange

Politicians.  Lobbyists.  Elected officials.  Legislation.  Laws.  Regulations.  Do those words generate a positive or negative connotation?  While answers will vary depending on individual circumstances or experiences, one thing is for sure:  They all impact how the construction industry functions and influence decisions of construction industry employers. The Syracuse Builders Exchange chooses to advocate and educate in an effort to support a position which is most advantageous to the industry.

Advocacy efforts happen every day, either by special interest groups, lobbyists or the general public, in an effort to influence politicians or policy makers.  But who is representing the interest of the construction industry in both Washington, D.C. and in Albany?  The answer depends on the position of subject matter and how much money one has to hire lobbyists to deliver a persuasive argument as to why legislation should be supported or opposed. 

Although some construction industry Associations have lobbyists, many local construction industry Associations and state-wide Associations do not.  In both cases, however, there is a coalition of industry Associations which generally work collaboratively in an effort to identify items of mutual importance to the industry, and then develop a strategy to advocate a position that the various organizations can agree with. 

Examples of advocacy provided by construction industry Associations may include:

  • Meeting with local and state elected officials in an effort to directly deliver a position of support or opposition, (example – Assemblyman Al Stirpe in central New York).
  • Meeting with appointed officials to mitigate or resolve issues impacting employers and/or the industry (example – Shaun McCready, NYS Department of Labor Director of Public Work).
  • Collaborating with like-minded Associations to deliver a “strength in numbers” campaign, supporting or opposing pending legislation, or urging the Governor to veto potential legislation (example – Associated General Contractors of NYS, Builders Exchange of Buffalo & Western NY, Eastern Contractors Association, Building Industry Employers of NYS, etc.).
  • Working with lobbyists to create positions of strength in an effort to effectuate change or educate (example -Hill, Gosdeck & McGraw, LLC).
  • Working with staff of elected officials to resolve industry issues or advocate for a position (example – Senator Charles Schumer).

While the Syracuse Builders Exchange does not have a lobbyist, nor do we pay for lobbying services, the Association does advocate for construction industry employers and the industry in general.  Representing the interests of the industry is critical in defending our industry from poor legislation, governance or regulations derived in Washington, D.C. or Albany.  And while many Associations do not have the financial resources to compete with special interest groups, the Syracuse Builders Exchange will continue to partner with like-minded construction industries Associations in an effort to educate elected officials on issues of importance and to advocate for our employers and the industry in general.