Community concerns with the results of new construction or disturbances from construction operations materially affect the construction industry. Some communities merely help shape projects that are being planned for construction in their environs. This aid consists of recommendations from community advisory boards and localization of planning. Other communities have assumed a more vigorous role in regulating construction, including the power of veto or costly delay over many projects.
Some of the areas of community relations that must be dealt with in construction management are discussed in the following:
Employment of Local Labor. Because many construction projects are built in inner city, or core areas, where there is much unemployment, communities may insist on utilization of unemployed local labor. This may be done in accordance with local plans or in the form of an Equal Opportunity Program of nondiscrimination, or by recruitment of local labor for employment on the job site. Additional equal opportunity must be given by contractors to women and the handicapped in both office and field positions.
Utilization of Local Subcontractors. Various government agencies may require or give preference to employment for construction work of local subcontractors, with special consideration for minority- and women-owned firms. In many cases, general contractors may be required to enter into written understandings with a government agency specifying goals to be set for local subcontractor employment on a job. As a result of such actions, poorly capitalized subcontractors have been able to make initial employment gains in fields requiring small capital investment.
Payrolls for such subcontractors, however, in a number of these trades do present difficulties. In many instances, it may be necessary for the general contractor to make special arrangements for interim payments to these subcontractors, prior to the regular payment date, for work performed.
Among the routes used to bring about employment of subcontractors short of capital on construction jobs are the following:
Awarding a subcontract and orders to such firms.
Subdividing work into manageable-size subcontracts.
Encouragement of subcontractors to enter into joint ventures with better-financed subcontractors.
Awarding subsubcontracts to subcontractors by better-financed subcontractors who hold a large subcontract.
Awarding a pilot contract for a small job to a subcontractor, for example, tiling of one or two bathrooms, just to create an opportunity to begin to function.
Recruitment of local community labor and local subcontractors for a project requires maintenance by the contractor of an active program for the purpose. When the job is started, if there is a community group strongly organized and vocal in the area, the leaders of this group should be approached. If a request is made by the community group for employment of a member of the group as a community liaison or organizer, this request should be given earnest consideration. With a salaried liaison between the contractor’s organization and the community, many pitfalls can be avoided.
Up-to-date lists of community subcontractors should be maintained by the contractor’s office. These lists should be frequently updated, or they will rapidly become obsolete as these small subcontractors either expand or phase out. The contacts thus made with local firms are important, because an acquaintanceship with local conditions is essential in obtaining and executing contracts and dealing with communities.
Public Interest Groups. These also express their opinions and ask for a voice in planning and construction of proposed projects. They can promote projects they favor or seriously delay or cause to be canceled projects they oppose, by lobbying, court actions, presentation of arguments at public hearings, or influencing local officials in a position to regulate construction.
Environmental Impact Statements. An environmental impact statement is an analysis of the effect that proposed construction will have on the environment of the locality in which the project is to be built. The statement should take into consideration, among other things, the following factors: effect on traffic; potential noise, sound, and air pollution; effect on wild life and ecology; effect on population and community growth; racial characteristics; economic factors; and aesthetics and harmony with the appearance of the community.
For each project, contractors should ascertain whether an environmental impact statement is required. If such a statement is required, it should be begun early in the construction planning stage, if it is required to be drafted by the contractor. If the impact statement for a project is to be drafted by a government agency, the contractor should ascertain that the agency has drafted the statement and that it has been filed and approved.