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Calvin Fors: Utah stands to benefit from strong infrastructure investments

If Congress will give us the tools we can get the job done.

(Jacquelyn Martin | AP) President Joe Biden walks off after speaking to the media, as from left, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz, Sen, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, look on, Thursday June 24, 2021, at the White House in Washington. Biden invited members of the group of 21 Republican and Democratic senators to discuss the infrastructure plan.

Many of us whose livelihoods depend on the construction trades have closely followed the recent debates in Washington, D.C., regarding federal infrastructure funding.

As a union carpenter, I spend my time building and repairing the critical infrastructure that keeps our communities vibrant and strong. In years past I have worked for union contractors on the Murdock Canal rebuild and I-15 modernization in Utah county. I have spent time on 1300 South bridge in Salt Lake City and 300 North in Clearfield.

More recently, those in my profession used their skills to rebuild the Olmsted Hydroelectric Plant. Last year, we saw several hardworking carpenters on the I-15 “Tech Corridor” in Lehi, as well on an extension of Mountain View Corridor in West Valley City. These projects provided a well-paying job for me and others, and helped increase the economic strength of the community.

The hard work of so many in our skilled building trades has built the infrastructure that has allowed Utah to flourish in recent years. Utah is now the fastest growing state in the country, adding almost 20% in population since 2010. Our high-tech economy is booming, and visitors and new residents alike, from all over the country and beyond, flock to every corner of the state, from our beautiful ski slopes to our treasured natural wonders.

Utah’s substantial investments in highways, bridges, water infrastructure and transportation have paid off with the highest job growth in the country. They have helped usher in an unprecedented era of prosperity for the state. But a lesson I have learned from a career in building is that every project, someday, ends. For Utah, our challenge now is keeping the success we have earned. Projections show our population continuing to grow by another half million in the next 10 years, and we must begin the work now to meet the needs of the future.

With new federal funding for infrastructure, workers from around the country can go back to work to build their communities better and stronger. Strong infrastructure helps every business, big and small, and every member of our communities’ benefit from more opportunities, good paying jobs and spending in every corner of our state.

I applaud the efforts of U.S. Senator Mitt Romney and our entire Utah delegation for working with their colleagues toward a bipartisan agreement on new infrastructure spending. I urge them to keep fighting to ensure Utah gets a fair share of this funding to support our critical needs appropriately. Utah’s prosperity helps keep our region strong, and our country continues to look to the Southwest as a key part to our nation’s growth and economic success.

I can guarantee that if our elected representatives can reach an agreement, Utah and our southwestern states have the skilled talent and know-how to get to work building for our future. If Congress can give us the tools, we can get the job done.

Calvin Fors

Calvin Fors is the business representative of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, representing over 58,000 skilled union workers in Utah and throughout the Southwest. He was born and raised in Utah.

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