The mammoth BP refinery expansion in Whiting is winding down, but contractors are hopeful the local construction industry will stay afloat.
That's because industrial work remains strong and other sectors long dormant, such as strip malls and light construction, are making a comeback.
"In our industry we are calling this the new normal," said William "Bill" Hasse III, president of Hasse Construction. "It will be competitive. There will be union and non-union work. There will be tight margins – but there will be work."
So far this year overall construction activity is up about 3 percent in the region, after making about a 10 percent gain last year. Unemployment among construction workers has dropped dramatically since the recession.
Public sector work has slowed down with an absence of big road projects such as the I-65/Borman interchange completed two years ago. But some localities such as Hammond, East Chicago and Gary are making valiant efforts to improve infrastructure.