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NEWS|June 26 2020

June Newsletter: Spotlighting the Workers Building the Addition

WSCC Addition Project, May 2020

As our region continues to navigate fast-changing circumstances, the economic benefits of projects like the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) Addition are more important than ever. The Addition project is creating thousands of family-wage construction jobs and will be a key to economic recovery as our region resumes business. However, without a $300 million funding bridge to make up for lost funds associated with a lodging tax that has been decimated by the pandemic, the Addition project will have to cease construction next year. You can read more about the efforts under way to secure federal funding here.

Despite this threat, construction continues and myriad individual workers are bringing the facility to life. 

Hundreds of those individuals are apprentices, learning trade skills to jumpstart their careers. Demand has been high for construction workers, and the Addition project’s large scale creates opportunities for workforce-training organizations such as ANEW to help aspiring workers get hands-on experience in the trades.

Currently, 15 percent of the Addition workforce are apprentices, and nearly 25 percent are workers from Priority Hire ZIP codes. The Priority Hire program focuses first on hiring residents who live in economically distressed areas, similar to the City of Seattle’s Priority Hire program. Learn about some of the Addition’s workers below.

Kevin Figueroa, Garco Construction

Kevin Figueroa pushed himself through the ranks from laborer at a small construction company to lift director at Garco, working on the WSCC Addition. As a lift director with Garco Construction, Kevin oversees the crane loads and makes sure the riggers and bellmen are doing their jobs. He assures the crane operator that it’s safe to “fly a load.” Kevin is the last person to give the green light, which is a significant role.

“I’m from El Salvador, and when I was working as a carpenter, I only saw white people operating the crane,” he says. “I never saw Latinos do anything like that. I thought, ‘I can do that too.'”

Frank Rizik, Farwest Steel

Frank Rizik saw opportunities for himself in the construction trades and started his on-the-job training as an apprentice. He worked hard to reach his current position as foreman and is proud to be able to support himself and his family through his work. Frank works at Farwest Steel, a steel supply, distribution and fabricating company that contracts with the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) Addition project.

“It’s not always easy, but the all-around package of being in the trades is better than you’ll get anywhere else,” he says.

Bo Coon, Garco Construction

Bo Coon is an apprentice with Garco Construction, a full-service building company contracted with the Addition. Bo and a Garco crane operator were brought in to assist crews with heavy lifting, and Bo says it’s exciting to work and learn with such highly skilled teams.

“I feel like finally, I have a career path and I’m super proud to do what I’m doing,” he says. “Everybody I know takes pride in their work, and it feels good to be a part of that. I’m really thankful for it.”

Partner Spotlight  

In addition to highlighting individual workers, we are profiling KWAME Building Group, a construction management firm that is helping the Clark/Lewis team with quality control, budget oversight, and scheduling, as well as providing inspection services. KWAME is a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) contractor. 


Economic Profile

A report by Washington Research Council.

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