Here’s a market segment worth monitoring in 2018 – social infrastructure. If social infrastructure is not a familiar term, think of it as construction related to social services – healthcare (hospitals), education (schools and universities), public facilities (courthouses, prisons and administration offices) and transportation projects of all types. Social infrastructure projects are often public-private partnership engagements with private-sector investors responsible for funding all or part of the project. But, no matter the type of engagement or where the funding comes from, social infrastructure projects in 2018 will represent lots of new business for many companies.
By one report, the world will likely spend as much as $8 trillion for social infrastructure projects between now and 2020. Granted, that’s a global projection, but still, it represents a lot of contracting opportunities and thousands of these projects will be launched in the U.S. If President Trump’s Infrastructure Plan is ever finalized, there will obviously be many more social infrastructure projects. America’s airports are in dire need of repair and expansion. Hundreds of university campuses need new research centers, student housing and additional teaching facilities. Public schools also have great needs – more classrooms, labs, technology centers and new gymnasiums.
These types of construction projects result in many additional contracting opportunities. They require planning, design, engineering, equipment, furniture, technology, security, landscaping, etc. Social infrastructure projects have been escalating each year over the past decade and there are numerous projects ready for launch in 2018. Western Carolina University recently released solicitation documents for a student housing complex. The university has acquired 344 acres adjacent to the main campus for the project and hopes to select contracting firms as soon as April of this year.
The state of Arizona has announced that it will make a $1 billion investment in its three public universities – Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. Arizona State will get a new Health Solutions Innovation Building and an extension on another facility. Northern Arizona will use its funding to expand its science corridor and repair other buildings, and the University of Arizona will build two new $100 million research-related buildings.
Trustees at Florida A&M University approved plans for an Access and Student Success Center. Construction should begin early in 2019. The Center will house recruitment, admissions, financial aid, counseling and health services.
Kent State University in Ohio has a $1 billion, 10-year plan to remake its campus. The first phase will redevelop the front of the campus and add new buildings and a parking garage. That work is scheduled for early 2018 and two additional phases (a new research lab, a student center and a campus library) will begin later. A public-private partnership is planned for the first phase of the project.
Sioux Falls, Iowa, has announced plans for a 129-unit housing project which will cost approximately $18 million. Funding has been secured from state and federal grants and construction is planned for mid- 2018.
Albemarle County in North Carolina plans to move its courthouse and hopes to engage a private-sector partner. The project cost is estimated at approximately $36.9 million and the county hopes to begin construction on a new courthouse within six months.
A new mixed-use development project is planned for Fort Wayne, Indiana. This social infrastructure project will be a public-private partnership engagement. City leaders have indicated that the new development will include 150 apartments, retail space and a parking garage.
Social infrastructure is definitely worth watching in 2018!