N.C., out-of-state contractors scramble for stimulus money

Posted March 3, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— North Carolina will get close to $1.4 billion in the federal stimulus package for highway and school construction projects, but that doesn't guarantee Tar Heel contractors will benefit.

State and local governments are trying to balance getting the best possible bid and helping North Carolina-based companies and their workers.

James B. Hunt Library site on march 3, 2009. Contractors compete for stimulus-money

"So many of our contracts are going out of state, businesses are going out of state, jobs are going out of state," said Rep. Larry Womble, D-Forsyth. "I don't know what legislatively or legally we can do to prevent that, but it doesn't (keep) me from expressing my concern."

For example, North Carolina State University picked an out-of-state design team for its planned James B. Hunt Library. The library, which will be built on the university's Centennial Campus, is expected to cost more than $100 million.

John Muter, vice president of Tarboro-based Barnhill Contracting Co., said contractors are scrambling to find work wherever they can. The collapse of the home-building industry has even pushed some residential builders into competing for commercial and state construction jobs, he said.

"I think you're seeing a lot of desperation out there," Muter said. "In the past, we might see six or seven bidders (on a project). Today, we're seeing 15 bidders."

As a member of the State Building Commission, Muter said he hears from local companies that lose projects to out-of-state bidders.

"When everybody's busy, you don't hear a lot about it. But today, we're hearing a lot of it because firms need work," he said.

Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, said he doesn't think the state should try to meddle with competition for stimulus contracts.

"It doesn't help our people at all because other states retaliate," Stam said. "Secondly, government gets higher prices that way."

Out-of-state contractors usually hire local subcontractors, and Muter said blocking experienced builders from other states from bidding on North Carolina projects could have other consequences as well.

"My concern would be quality, schedule and even safety (problems)," he said.


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  • discowhale Mar 4, 2009

    Hey, you mean hiring out of state companies means the STIMULUS money will stimulate OUT OF STATE? Paying the NC money to an out of state company won't help us here?

    I'm shocked!!

    WOW, too bad the state project people didn't attend a few economics classes in college! Or, maybe I can get them to deposit THEIR paychecks in MY account. They obviously don't see the difference in where money goes.

  • pebbles262004 Mar 4, 2009

    Oh yeah lets not pay the people here in NC for them to be able to work. Also, do they really need a new library when wake county is already talking baout cutting jobs to teach kids because they do not have enough money

  • grimreaper Mar 3, 2009

    Yup, no jobs for North Carolina workers to be found out of this money for construction that is for sure. They will contract out to whoever and those people will do what they have been doing for the past 10+ years and that is employ illegals.

    This stinks.

  • james27613 Mar 3, 2009

    Why an outside design firm? SO if something goes wrong,
    they can blame the design firm. Why hire consultants, so you can blame the consultant for a poor job and get to keep your state own job. Amazing.

    I just hope these outside contractors know how to mix
    concrete, unlike the crews that goofed up I-40 paving job and
    that new road that is already crumbling after just opening up.

  • districtcadvocate Mar 3, 2009

    The real issue is where will the labor come from. If we pre-qualify the competition that they have to hire locally then North Carolinians win all around. If they come in here with a bunch of workers from out of state and God forbid, illegal immigrants with their spouses and children then North Carolinians are worse off than before.

    We are in a very Darwinian situation where only the very strong survive yet we can get strong if we cannibalize our own people, workers.

    I appreciate Mr. Womble and Gov Perdue's concern for the North Carolina worker/voter and any politician that does not vote for the local worker/voter needs to be voted out next time their is an opportunity.

  • affirmativediversity Mar 3, 2009


    Excellent question!!! Why didn't they use their School of Design?

  • affirmativediversity Mar 3, 2009

    I would have a lot more sympathy for the construction companies if they hadn't employed so many illegal migrants for years now!

  • colliedave Mar 3, 2009

    For example, North Carolina State University picked an out-of-state design team for its planned James B. Hunt Library.

    And why didn't the powers-at-be use the school's School of Design for this project?