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Business Observer Friday, Sep. 17, 2004 18 years ago

Should builders be blamed

The construction industry is often blamed for growth. Fact is, it's the third largest employer in the region.

Should builders be blamed

The construction industry is often blamed for growth. Fact is, it's the third largest employer in the region.

By Britt Williams

Growth is a daily topic here in Manatee County. And that's no surprise. We're in the growth mode. This is true for all of Florida - one of the fastest growing states in the country.

According to the Manatee County Economic Development Council's demographic information, the 2000 census estimated Manatee's population to be 264,000. Today there are more than 290,000 residents and by 2008 about 325,000 people will call this home. Are the builders the reason for all of this growth? Of course not! People are choosing Manatee County because it's a great place to live.

Builders build homes in response to demand. It's basic economics. Unlike the popular movie, "A Field of Dreams," they generally do not subscribe to the "build it and they will come" philosophy.

Yet the home building industry is often cast in a negative light - and yes, even by citizens in the community. They are frustrated by some of the consequences of growth: increased traffic, crowded classrooms and a greater demand for more services and facilities. These items are not controlled by builders.

Furthermore, builders often do not get the credit they deserve for what they provide the community. For example, construction is the third-largest employer in Manatee County. The industry contributes more than $955 million in taxable new building value and is projected to contribute more than $29.6 billion in real property tax roll revenues in 2004. As a result of this healthy new growth, county Administrator Ernie Padgett has submitted his proposed budget without any tax increases. This is due to the additional $20 million in property tax revenues expected as a result of rising property values - directly attributable to new home construction!

Who are these builders? Well, they are your next-door neighbors, or perhaps they are your child's Little League umpires. Better yet, they may be your child's best friend's parent. They worship with you at church. They give back to the community in numerous ways: as members of the Red Cross, chairman of the local United Way campaigns or as active members of the local Habitat for Humanity.

The building industry consists of more than just the builders themselves. In fact, it includes other businesses allied with the construction of new homes: surveyors, architects, engineers, bankers, lawyers, suppliers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC subcontractors ¦ just to name a few.

The Home Builders Association of Manatee County is the organization that represents this industry and is proud to do so. Our members contribute billions to the economy in tax revenues, remain one of the primary economic and employment engines for our community, help provide the American Dream of homeownership to thousands of our citizens. And they care enough about their community to give both of their time and resources to ensure a better tomorrow.

So, who are we? We are you!

Britt Williams is president of Bruce Williams Homes and president of the Home Builders Association of Manatee County.

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