CONSTRUCTION: Commercial projects picking up the slack

Times Board of Economists - Update from William Hasse III, president Hasse Construction
2013-10-20T00:00:00Z 2013-12-18T16:20:17Z CONSTRUCTION: Commercial projects picking up the slackBy Keith Benman, (219) 933-3326

The base of activity in Northwest Indiana's construction market is broadening, with residential and commercial activity now rebounding after years of lackluster performance.

Strip malls, office buildings, and small-to-medium industrial projects are springing up across the region. Industrial construction includes Urschel Laboratories new plant, in Chesterton, and Dawn Foods distribution center, in Merrillville. Retail and commercial projects include Schererville's Shops on Main and the Lake Business Center, in Munster.

"The market from our perspective is strong," Hasse said. "Lots of opportunities, lots of sectors doing better than over the last three or four years."

The residential and commercial recovery could not come at a better time for local construction trades workers. Jobs on those sites are helping to make up for the winding down of the $3.8 billion BP Whiting Refinery expansion.

But another legacy of the recession hasn't gone away. Stiff competition and an expectation of low prices among customers have kept margins tight in the construction industry.

"There's lots of work out there right now, but you have to be careful what you work with," Hasse said.

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