Scholarship Money is Available Now, Spread the Word!

Scholarship Money is Available Now

One of the biggest challenges the construction industry faced before the pandemic, still exists today. We need to expand efforts to engage the next generation and get young adults excited about this field. More than 40% of construction workers are baby boomers, meaning that most of that 40% will be of retirement age in the next five to seven years. Studies also show that construction workers retire from their field earlier than workers in other industries, largely due to the physical demands of the job. In addition to the generational gap, there is a gender balance gap plaguing the industry, as well. There is a considerable gap between the number of working women and those who choose to work in construction. While women comprise up to 47% of the total US labor workforce, only 9.9% of the construction workforce are women. While there are many issues to address, our Construction Accounting Services team wants you to be aware of vital undergraduate and graduate scholarship funding available through The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) so you can pass on time-sensitive information to your partners and communities.

As the leading association for the construction industry, AGC represents more than 27,000 firms, including over 6,500 of America’s leading general contractors, and over 9,000 specialty-contracting firms. The AGC Education and Research Foundation offers undergraduate and graduate-level scholarships to students enrolled in ABET or ACCE – accredited construction management or construction-related engineering programs. Over $10 million in scholarships have been awarded to more than 4,000 students attending colleges and universities across the country. The criteria to apply for undergraduate and graduate scholarships outlines the eligibility to apply. A maximum of $2,500 per student per year will be distributed for undergraduate scholarships and may be renewable for up to three years of undergraduate study in construction-related engineering, construction, or a dual degree with construction or construction-related engineering as one part. The Graduate Scholarship recipient(s) will receive $3,750 annually to be used for the duration of the student’s graduate degree program, up to $7,500. Scholarship winners will be notified in March 2022 and award(s) will be announced at the AGC Annual Convention. Applications for 2021 will be accepted until June 1, so it is essential to get the word out to any eligible students as soon as possible.

Many challenges undoubtedly lie ahead as the construction industry struggles to attract and retain the next generation, but it is our hope that by presenting young people with information about financial opportunities, we can help advance the next wave of contractors. AT RBT, we pride ourselves on assisting construction professionals to build the most sustainable businesses you can with our comprehensive services. But beyond the variety of services we perform, we aim to pass along useful, relevant information to help our communities succeed, grow and prosper. As we continue to dedicate time and resources to helping our construction clients achieve success, we look forward to connecting with you and your team.

PPP and Your Business

PPP and Your Business

Across the country, small businesses create two-thirds of new jobs and employ nearly half of America’s workers, yet nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many are still struggling to survive. If you feel like there are constant updates surrounding the Paycheck Protection Program, you’re not alone. This week, the Biden administration announced several PPP changes in an effort to reach minority-owned and very small businesses that may have previously missed out on accessing loans. With the March 31st PPP application closing date looming, your business may benefit from some of the updates. Below is a summary of the main updates to keep in mind.

Bigger Focus on Small Business

Did you know that 98% of small businesses have fewer than 20 employees? Maybe this describes your business or a local vendor you work closely with. Starting Wednesday of this week, small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will have a two-week exclusive window to apply for the funding. Bigger businesses will be blocked during that time period. The 14-day exclusive application period will allow lenders to focus on serving these smallest businesses.

Other Eligibility Changes

Starting in March, self-employed, sole proprietors and independent contractors will now qualify for more money. They were previously excluded altogether or received as little as $1 because the loan amounts were calculated based on the number of employees. The loan program will also open up to small business owners with non-fraud-related felonies as long as the applicant or owner is not incarcerated at the time of the application. With millions of Americans delinquent on student loans, those struggling to pay off student loan debt can now apply to the program, too. Working with the Departments of the Treasury and Education, the SBA will remove the student loan delinquency restriction to broaden access to the PPP. Some non-citizen residents, such as Green Card holders or those in the country on visas were previously excluded but can also now apply by using their Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) for relief.

The PPP application is currently being revamped and the SBA website is being updated to help more applicants find relief option resources and complete applications. To improve access to capital for small businesses, the SBA is also in the process of launching a new initiative to deepen its relationships with lenders. This model will increase the opportunity for lenders to provide recommendations and ask questions about the PPP and drive the resolution of open questions and concerns in a more streamlined way. The latest PPP, which began on January 11 and runs through the end of March, has already paid out $133.5 billion in loans — about half of the $284 billion allocated by Congress — with an average loan under $74,000.

Do you have questions about your construction company and the new changes we mentioned above? To learn if previous restrictions were preventing you from accessing the funds you need, contact our team today before time runs out. If you want streamlined construction accounting in Mid-Hudson Valley, NY, RBT has the essential services you’re looking for.

Sources: Whitehouse, Forbes

Can My Company Afford to Go Green

Can My Company Afford to Go Green

Green-tech.

Depending on which side of the grass you’re standing on, it’s a term you either love or hate. For years, the misconception that going green is too costly for small and medium-sized contractors has prevented companies from getting a piece of the sustainable construction market action. A market which, I might add, is projected to top $523 billion by 2026. As customers have become increasingly aware of environmental concerns, research and development of sustainable materials have exploded. What does that mean for you? More building options, more growth opportunity, and a wider pool of potential clients if you’re willing to shift with the changing times. There are several innovative ways to go green. Some may be more relevant than others in your daily operation. Here are a few examples to get your creativity flowing:

  • Use of RMC (Ready Mixed Concrete) instead of bricks to reduces wastage
  • Radiant-cooling technology
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Biodegradable or recycled construction material usage
  • IoT Integrated Automated Building Systems
  • DGU Windows to reduce sound and heat from coming in
  • Shadow concept construction

Off-site fabrication, improved on-site maintenance, lean practices, and landfill avoidance – the list truly goes on.

The reality is, as state and local governments get serious about going green, the opportunity for your business to integrate innovations is there for the taking. Consider that 77% of millennial consumers agree they will pay more for products from sustainable sources, according to Nielsen. Now more than ever, environmentally conscious clients are willing to trade off a slightly higher upfront investment for ongoing savings, especially when a contractor can prove their suggested design will perform as desired with advanced energy use modeling.

If you’re just breaking into this arena, it’s best to follow New York’s green building requirements, you can reference guidelines here. For starters, you should know financial solutions exist to make going green more affordable and cost-efficient for your operation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides grants for qualified, environmentally responsible programs and The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers still more options for green solution construction. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority offers financial and technical assistance programs and the New York Financial Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency finds state and local financial incentives that promote renewable energy upgrades. Your organization can even achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating by adhering to guidelines outlined and advocated by U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED-certified buildings qualify for tax benefits and incentives from tax credits, grants, and expedited building permits to reductions or waivers in fees. When you consider the federal tax credits for building energy efficient projects, you can start to see the true value of incorporating green practices.

Around the globe, countries are continuing to build incentives for going green.

The UK recently introduced the Green Homes Grant and similar structures are likely to be introduced in the states. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has already rolled out an aggressive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% of 1990 levels by 2030. They’ll no doubt need to further incentivize, support, and partner with contractors to accomplish that hefty goal. This could mean huge financial motivations for your client pool down the road, all the more reason to be progressive and familiarize your team with green practices now. In many instances, reducing energy consumption has gone from being a “good idea” to a business necessity. The more you explore adopting environmentally-friendly technology and materials, the more we think you will find building green is good for public health, the environment, and your bottom line. Have questions about your business plan? RBT’s dedicated team is here to answer your pressing questions. Contact us here, today.

How Tech is Rebuilding Construction

Tele-Building

It’s 2020 and many of us have happily embraced couch culture. Beyond binge watching your favorite show on Netflix, you’ve proven that you can successfully run business meetings, write papers, and teach makeshift math classes to your kids all while sporting your signature sweats. You can’t however – build a skyscraper from the comfort of your couch – unless it’s made out of Legos. But while some in-person aspects of the construction industry can never truly be replaced, major technological advancements are breaking down barriers and helping crews succeed, even in the middle of a global pandemic. Long before the Covid-19 pandemic caused operations to shut down this past spring, a technological industry shift was underway. Big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and automation, as well as technologies like drones and 3D printing have been implemented industry-wide. With restrictions on job sites and safety measures in place to protect both worker and client health, construction companies need to do everything they can to stay competitive. Let’s explore what big data means, and how tele-building can help you save money, improve efficiency and prepare for the remote possibilities of the future.

Big Data

“The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.”

The huge quantities of information that have been stored in the past and that continue to be gathered every day is known as big data. This information can come from a combination of people, computers, machines sensors, and any other data-generating device. Generally speaking, it helps to streamline a construction operation. Historical big data can be analyzed to identify construction risk probabilities, or weather and traffic patterns to help you plan more efficiently. It can even be used to help you save money by evaluating previous projects’ overspend or unused materials. Machine sensor input can help to determine active and idle machine operating time so you can make smarter decisions about buying or leasing equipment. So, what do you do with the data once you’ve collected it? You can get an even more accurate building process in place once your data is fed into a solid Building Information Modeling (BIM) program. A 2018 case study found data-driven BIM can cut construction expenses by 18% and reduce completion time by up to two weeks. The possibilities for cost-cutting are endless, and as you know, time is money. One way that data collection is further fueling faster, more efficient construction, is through enabling what’s being described as tele-building.

Tele-building

“Just as telehealth has transformed life, so will tele-building.”

Industry expert Jeevan Kalanithi believes that just as telework and telehealth have erupted, so will a concept he describes as tele-building. “We believe that tele-building will soon take off to scale the expertise of our superintendents, project managers, inspectors, and foremen,” said Kalanithi. “If your captures of the site are high-quality, you can reduce the amount of in-person visits needed, saving time and money, as well as improving knowledge transfer.” As the CEO of OpenSpace, Kalanithi envisions digitally strolling sites as the way of the future. OpenSpace offers a photo-documentation solution that allows builders to walk a job site with a small camera on their hardhat. The solution then automatically handles the capture, uploading, and organization of those images. The result is a maneuverable experience similar to Google Street View, made possible by computer vision that can be viewed and analyzed from anywhere, bringing the job site to remote workers. While larger projects like renovations or multi-year megaprojects will cost you, you can trial the concept by using OpenSpace Photo to capture smaller areas and quickly generate 360 degree photo documentation for free.

Every day, new tech is emerging. It can feel overwhelming to stay caught up on the latest breakthroughs or cutting-edge trends you need to know about to keep your business running smoothly. The professional team at RBT is here to help you navigate the fast-paced world we live in. Please do not hesitate to reach out and schedule a conversation to discuss your business needs, today.