President, Construction News and Report Group of Companies
I’m writing this month’s viewpoint from a hotel in Wilmington, North Carolina, attending an event that is unique for either the U.S. or Canadian construction industries: FEDCON, or the southeast region Federal Construction, Infrastructure and Environment summit. The organization putting the intensive 1.5 day event together has an equally daunting acronym, NCMBC – The North Carolina Military Business Center.
There aren’t too many events that combine educational institutions (NCMBC operates from North Carolina’s community college system), state and federal governments, and private businesses in a practical hands-on “let’s do business” environment. Politicians, military brass, and contractors looking for work gather for sessions and both formal and informal one on one meetings to learn the nuts and bolts of military procurement and opportunities.
The program has a powerful advantage in its administrators’ selflessness. In one of the bastions of southern U.S. culture, NCMBC representatives provide business consulting and support without profit seeking objectives.
My work here relates to our modest but important U.S. business. We currently publish titles for North Carolina, Florida and Chicago, and will be adding new regions soon. Each publication is produced as a magazine distributed primarily online (similar to the Canadian Design and Construction Report), combined with weekly eletters and websites updated most days. The specialized publications serve their communities with a minimum of administrative overhead, combined with plenty of immediacy. I think they truly reflect publishing industry trends.
Obviously, there are significant differences between Canadian and U.S. business and government practices and relationships, yet I think quite a lot can be learned from FEDCON for post-secondary educational administrators and government agencies, especially relating to military and infrastructure construction such as Defence Construction Canada. Thoughtful, integrated initiatives to open doors and create/explore opportunities for general contractors and subtrades, as well as consultants, can encourage healthy competition and growth. As well, with educational institutions’ hands-on participation (and leadership), they can gain valuable insights into labour market changes as well as training and career transitions.
Good ideas are worth sharing. I think an initiative like FEDCON would have real value in Ontario.
Mark Buckshon is the president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or you can read his daily blog at www.constructionmarketingideas.com. You can also phone him at (613) 699-2057 ext. 224.