News + Views

Female roofing contractor surprised with check and tools

Letitia Hanke, CEO of ARS Roofing, Santa Rosa, Calif., recently was featured on “Returning the Favor,” a Facebook Watch series recognizing and rewarding people who make a difference in their communities.

In an episode titled “The Drummer Helping the Trades,” show host Mike Rowe gifted Hanke with a $5,000 Yamaha drum set, $61,000 in tools and supplies, and a $35,000 check for NextGen Trades Academy, a program she founded to help students learn trade skills.

Hanke started the nonprofit in 2015 at Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park, Calif., after she faced difficulties finding young people to hire and noticed a shortage of workers in general.

“[Students] don’t know what kind of amazing career they can have in construction until someone tells them,” Hanke told Rowe.

Hanke studied music education at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, and started a job at a roofing company to earn extra money. Although much of her time now is dedicated to running her own company, she still plays in her church band and practices drums at home.

The episode is available at

Sacramento invests millions in workforce training program

The city of Sacramento, Calif., is putting $10 million toward a new workforce training effort intended to alleviate the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Councilman Eric Guerra announced the proposal Aug. 25, and the Sacramento City Council passed the measure that evening. The program will use some of the $90 million in funding the city received from the federal CARES Act in March.

City officials are looking to serve up to 11,120 individuals who are unemployed or looking to change careers.

“We already knew we had challenges in public health in our communities in need before the pandemic,” Guerra said at a news conference Aug. 25. “We have an opportunity to fix those gaps to make sure we can quickly up-skill people into construction jobs, manufacturing jobs and health care jobs.”

The workforce development program’s funding would be split into five categories: $3 million for construction and trades training; $3 million for digital skills programs; $1.7 million for job placement and supportive services; $1.6 million for youth training; and $800,000 for health care training.

Allocations of funds will be made to construction industry groups, including GRID Alternatives, Northern California Construction Training, the North State Building Industry Association and Sacramento-Sierra’s Building & Construction Trades Council.

California experienced the largest decrease in construction jobs in the U.S. in July. Despite the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Steinberg said he was confident in the sector’s recovery and “pent-up demand” for new projects after the pandemic subsides.

Submit a CNA/NRCA Community Involvement Award nomination

CNA and NRCA are accepting nominations for the CNA/NRCA Community Involvement Award, which honors charitable works by NRCA member contractors. Nominate any charitable project, activity or donation completed between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 1, 2020, for a chance to win up to $7,500 for your charity.

Four winning charities will be selected. The first-place winner will receive $7,500; the second-place winner will receive $5,000; the third-place winner will receive $2,500; and the People’s Choice Award winner will receive $1,500. The awards will be presented at NRCA’s Industry Awards Ceremony and Cocktail Reception during NRCA’s 134th Annual Convention in Las Vegas in April.

Submissions should include an entry form, in-depth description of the charitable work, testimonial from the receiving charity and any supporting material (photos, videos, press clippings, etc.). A panel of judges from CNA and NRCA will determine the first-, second- and third-place winners. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be selected by the public via online voting.

The deadline for submissions is Dec. 1. Entries must be submitted electronically via Dropbox to Entries submitted by mail will not be accepted.

Additional information is available at

Survey reveals project delays are getting worse

A recent workforce survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America and software firm Autodesk reveals the number of contractors who have had future projects canceled or delayed because of COVID-19 has reached 60%—nearly double the amount from June, according to

In addition, 33% of firms say projects already in progress had been halted because of the pandemic.

Doug Hacker, executive vice president at Lexington, Ky.-based commercial building contractor Congleton-Hacker Co., is concerned about the lack of new projects combined with his diminishing backlog. He says his firm’s experiences reflect the survey’s results.

“We’ve seen roughly a half dozen projects either slowed or halted during this period, and roughly another three projects that were stopped altogether,” Hacker says.

The COVID-19 crisis also has negatively affected the industry’s labor shortage—44% of the 2,000 firms surveyed say when they tried to recall laid-off or furloughed workers, some staff refused to return to work, citing virus concerns, family responsibilities or a preference for unemployment benefits.

“Few firms have survived unscathed from the pandemic amid widespread project delays and cancellations,” says Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Ironically, even as the pandemic undermines demand for construction services, it is reinforcing conditions that have historically made it hard for many firms to find qualified craft workers to hire.”



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