The economic outlook continues its downward spiral, but hope is in sight.
Donations and contributions are made in memory of lost industry workers.

The shock of the deadly attacks of planes destroying the World Trade Center and damaging the Pentagon have left an emotional and economic imprint everywhere in the country, including the construction and pluming industry.

Just as August recorded $845.5 billion in total value of construction -- a 1 percent decrease from July and nearly a 3 percent drop from the year's high in April -- the attacks on the country are continuing the downward effect, almost guaranteeing lower revenues and profits. While the general overtones of the industry are similar to the national economic outlook, a drop in interest rates and the need for making buildings more secure could spur some construction spending.

"These figures show that construction, as well as other sectors, had stopped growing even before the tragedies of Sept. 11," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for Associated General Contractors of America.But the tragedies certainly didn't help the decreasing figures.

"Unfortunately, those events are likely to put a halt to many construction projects until owners can reassess their financial situation," said Simonson. "I expect to see a further decline in construction across the board, followed by very limited categories of expansion in the next few months."

Other fears arose concerning the air and drinking water around the disaster sites, but EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said results from the agency's monitoring near the World Trade Center and Pentagon indicate that these vital resources are safe.

Whitman said the results of monitoring drinking water in New York City provided additional reassurance that city residents were not being exposed to dangerous contaminants including asbestos, radiation, mercury and other metals, pesticides, PCBs, or bacteria. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gave $83 million to support EPA's involvement in cleanup activities and ongoing monitoring of environmental conditions in the areas.

While some meetings and trade shows went on as scheduled, others were postponed after the attacks. The PMI fall meeting that was postponed in September has been rescheduled for Nov. 28-30 at the Intercontinental Hotel on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Economic losses are little in comparison to the loss of life. The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing's Local UA 638 lost three members -- Felix Calixte and Arturo Sereno, both service fitters for B.P. Airconditioning Corp., and New York City firefighter Thomas Kelly -- in the World Trade Center attacks.

Donating Money

Charitable funds and donation gathering trickled down from most people and businesses in the country including the PHC industry. The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors established a scholarship fund for 13-year old Imran Khan, son of Flight 77 passenger and PHCC service manager Norma Khan, whose plane crashed into the Pentagon.

Also, to help assist the children of those killed in the September attacks, the AGC set up a "Terrorist Victims Fund." The fund will be distributed and give preference to children of craft and management employees of construction firms.

The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipefitting, Sprinklerfitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA) set up the United Association Emergency World Trade Center/Pentagon Assistance Program. The fund will be used to assist local union victims' families, the fire department and police departments in both New York and Washington.

Donating Time & Supplies

AGC members, along with many other industry people, assisted in the search for survivors and are playing pivotal roles in the recovery and clean up efforts. While all of these operations have been donated time and supplies, the eventual complete clean up and rebuilding of the Trade Centers will pump millions (if not billions) into the industry, thus giving some much needed economic hope and confidence to the construction industry.

Stewart O'Brien, executive director of the Plumbing Foundation-City of New York, reported that the city's trade union locals had been coordinating efforts to send volunteers to the World Trade Center site and had been purchasing equipment for clean-up efforts.

Items such as torch equipment, hard hats, safety goggles and a truckload of ice to the World Trade Center clean-up efforts were donated by George Breslaw & Sons Inc. in New York City.

To find out how you can help with donations of time, money or materials for relief efforts, see page 14 for contact information.