The end of the $3.8 billion BP Whiting Refinery expansion project has cut total construction work hours in the region, but a blossoming of commercial work and other types is filling in the gaps.
A combination of pent-up demand, low interest rates, low inflation and smaller increases in labor rates are helping boost commercial building, according to William "Bill" Hasse III, president of Hasse Construction.
"It's dramatically up compared to the last five years and it continues to grow," Hasse said.
Some local commercial/retail projects of note include Shops on Main, in Schererville, and the Lake Business Center, in Munster.
Overall, construction activity outside of home building increased about 3 percent in the United States in 2013 and is forecast to increase about 6 percent this year.
Health care, the utility industry, and manufacturing are also creating demand for construction. Projects in that vein include the new $80 million Urschel Laboratories plant, in Chesterton, and the more than $700 million NIPSCO is spending to install pollution control equipment at generating stations.