Construction Today - June 2017 - 11
A Helping Hand
Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA) has its SWCA Foundation,
which operates with the goal of enhancing its region with education grants and
community outreach projects. This includes
a scholarship program that awards those
pursuing educations in building and
"The SWCA Foundation invests in future
community leaders by offering financial
assistance to students through funds raised
by the generous donations of members,"
SWCA says. "These awards are available to
association members' employees, their children and others who are enrolling in fulltime secondary education. Students who
utilize the SWCA Foundation Scholarship
Program include those seeking technical
training, leadership skills and a wide range
of degrees from various colleges."
says. "It's really hard to find people to plug in
to work the jobs, particularly in our region,
This is despite the fact that the association's county, Clark County, is the fastest
growing in the state. "We have a ton of
project development," Altizer says. "There's a
lot of work and jobs, but we are challenged
with finding enough employees to meet
Technology, she notes, helps SWCA's
members cope by keeping them efficient.
For example, GPS helps them keep track of
workers' time by discovering how much time
is spent traveling to and from project sites.
"A lot of our members also are starting
to use drones, so they can have a visual up
above on a project," Altizer says, noting that
this helps them save time by anticipating
any land development challenges.
SWCA also has been able to offer assistance. "We help with connecting members
and businesses," she says, noting that the
association has been able to nurture partnerships that make their work easier.
For example, if a contractor has a piece of
SWCA is seeing trends in the
Pacific Northwest, including
a skilled labor shortage.
work on a project that is not in their expertise, they can partner "with
other contractors to take on that other piece of the job," she says.
"Our members amongst themselves also have member discounts."
Finding a Place
Altizer sees strong growth for SWCA. "We're working really hard
at examining our resources provided to our members and making
them as robust as possible," she says. "[We want] to be that go-to
organization for construction."
She adds that SWCA has its Construction Executive Summit
planned for next year in Vancouver. Its keynote speakers will
include: Tiffany R. Couch, a principal at Acuity Forensics, a forensics
accounting firm based in Vancouver, and Ron Frederiksen, chairman
of RSV Building Solutions, a large general contractor also based in
The event, Altizer notes, will further help define the city as
a center of construction. Vancouver, which is in the southern
portion of Washington, is located across the Columbia River from
Although Clark County is very large with a population of 450,000,
"We are not Seattle and we are not Portland," she admits. "That's a
challenge for us, [being] between two huge metropolitan areas.
"We get lost in that shuffle, between Oregon and Seattle," she says,
noting that this challenge goes back to SWCA's start in 1947. "The
contractors [said], 'We need a place for southwest Washington.'"
JUNE 2017 CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM