Mississippi’s ABC, AGC Join Forces to Build Governor’s Inaugural Platform

Tue February 03, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Maybelle G. Cagle

Associated General Contractors (AGC) and Associated Building Contractors (ABC) members recently worked together to complete construction of the inaugural platform for Haley Barbour, who was sworn in as Mississippi’s new governor on Jan. 13.

This is the first time both construction trade associations came together to build the inaugural platform.

Barbour, a Republican, defeated Democrat Ronnie Musgrove for the governor’s office in November.

Perry Nations, executive director of the AGC, said his association has been building the inaugural platform for Mississippi governors since 1979. Seating for gubernatorial inaugurations has normally been for 400 people. Barbour, however, requested a platform be constructed to support 800.

Because the project required more effort, Nations talked to ABC about doing the work jointly.

“The AGC and the ABC were very much involved in the gubernatorial campaign. We got to where we were doing some things together,” he said. “Instead of making it an AGC or ABC project, we thought we would make it a Mississippi construction industry project. This is our contribution to the new governor from the construction industry in Mississippi.”

He estimated the project saved Mississippi taxpayers $35,000 to $40,000.

Nations said volunteers worked on the project, which was engineered by Direct Scaffolding, for a week.

The project on the south end of the Capitol in downtown Jackson called for a level platform, along with steps and banisters.

“Our members were real enthusiastic about building the inaugural platform,” said C.J. “Buddy” Edens, executive director of ABC.

“Everything was donated so there was no cost to the taxpayers. Our members and our associations have donated all the scaffolding, wood, labor, equipment and miscellaneous materials. There was a total of about 40 people working on this project,” said Edens.

In addition to constructing the inaugural platform, AGC and ABC also worked to build two reviewing stands for the inaugural parade, which also took place Jan. 13. One reviewing stand for the governor and his party was in front of the governor’s mansion on Capitol Street; another stand built for the news media was across the street.

2004 Predictions

Nations is highly optimistic about the future of Mississippi’s construction industry.

“I am excited about the next four years. I have extended my retirement through this administration,” said Nations, noting that he believes Barbour can do ’a lot for the construction industry.”

Barbour is a former Washington lobbyist and former Republican National Committee Chairman. He is the second Republican to become Mississippi’s governor since 1874. The first, Kirk Fordice, was well-known in the construction industry and owned a Vicksburg, MS, construction company. He also was a previous president of AGC of America.

Nations said he believes Barbour, because of his vast contacts, will be able to do “even more” (than Fordice) for the construction industry.

According to Edens, his association is “somewhat” optimistic about the construction outlook for 2004.

“The economy is improving, the Dow is over 10,000, unemployment is down overall and we have an exciting new leader in the governor’s mansion,” he said.

Edens added, “Growth in the construction industry this year will be moderate, but should steadily improve over the next two to three years.”