Hilltop Regional Health Center to bring jobs, boost local economy

Signs of a rebounding local economy can be measured one story at a time. In this instance it is the construction of a multi-story building currently going up in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and E.S. Brazill Street. When completed, the new facility for the Hilltop Regional Health Center will expand much needed health care services for local residents and provide a boost to Tacoma’s economy. These are both very good news to the community.

At this stage of construction, highly skilled ironworkers, employed by Coastal Steel, a Pierce County company, can be seen bolting and welding together the metal framework of this $16 million building.

“This is not a big job for us, but nevertheless, it is keeping six to eight ironworkers on site every day earning good paychecks,” Coastal Steel CEO Steve Price. “By completion of this project my part of the contract will have resulted in some $200,000 paid in wages to local workers. Those wages then are spent at the dentist’s office, the grocery store, restaurants and for home mortgages, as well as local taxes that support community services like schools and public safety.”

The numbers get even bigger when you look at the entire project, which is managed by J.R. Abbott Construction of Seattle, the general contractor. According to Abbott spokesman Steve Jarvis, “A majority of the money for a project like this goes to wages. In this case about $10 million will go home with mostly local workers.” And Jarvis further points out, “Many of the other sub-contractors are also local companies, including site work by Active Construction of Tacoma, masonry by Cascade Construction, water proofing by Tacoma Plumbing and electrical wiring by REP Electrical. Even a project of this size translates into family-wage jobs for a lot of people.”

“Often people tend to look at the construction industry as only temporary jobs. However, one job leads to another,” Price added. “

As soon as our part of the project is completed we will move on to work that is scheduled to start on the campus of Tacoma Community College and at Joint Base Lewis McChord. The work sites may be temporary, but the jobs keep coming.”

Jarvis adds that the outlook for construction is starting to look better. “We have not come out of the economic slump by a long shot, but we are now starting to schedule jobs to begin in late 2014, and that’s much better than even just a year ago,” he said.

The Health Center building is scheduled to be completed in September of this year.

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