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News Jan. 23, 2018

California businessman pushes to recruit young people into the construction industry

There is an estimated need for thousands of construction jobs to rebuild thousands of homes in the North Bay area of California after the recent wildfires—that's aside from all the housing projects that were underway before the wildfires. As a result, Santa Rosa, Calif., businessman Lawrence Amaturo has proposed that a multimillion-dollar pitch be made to lure the next generation to careers in the construction industry, according to

Amaturo recently gave a presentation to local construction, business, education and government leaders at the North Coast Builders Exchange's offices in Santa Rosa, explaining the need to effectively communicate to the 16-34 age group that construction is a lucrative, "cool" and even "patriotic" career that could help them contribute to the area's recovery.

"This isn't going to be like joining the Marines, but it should be seen as something noble, even patriotic," Amaturo said. Amaturo owns a car dealership, car wash and a media group with several North Bay radio stations and a business magazine.

More than 6,000 homes were destroyed in four North Bay counties. About 6,300 jobs per year during the next three years will be needed to rebuild the homes, according to Chris Thornberg of Beacon Economics. The North Coast Builders Exchange estimates the rebuild could take up to 10 years.

Amaturo is proposing a multimedia blitz in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake and Solano counties during at least a two-year period. The message would point to a phone line and website with details about scholarships, training programs, apprenticeships and full-time jobs. It would go out through digital marketing, such as social media and even internet-connected video-game consoles. There would be spots on cable sports television and radio stations targeted toward young adults.

Another effort to coordinate recovery resources is Rebuild North Bay Foundation, a coalition of elected officials, business people, nonprofits and nongovernment agencies in North Bay counties affected by the firestorms.

"I hope this campaign makes people look at the value of labor differently," says Jennifer Gray Thompson, director of Rebuild North Bay Foundation.

Amaturo estimates the cost of the campaign is more than $2 million, which also would cover the cost for a full-time professional to oversee it, and Amaturo is recruiting for a 10- to 12-member board. After two years, Amaturo says the success or failure of the campaign would be evaluated. If it has helped bring more workers into the trades, the model could be expanded throughout the Bay Area and the state.


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