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Local construction projects in the works include Delaware Elementary School at 1505 S. Delaware Ave.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
Local construction projects in the works include Delaware Elementary School at 1505 S. Delaware Ave.

Contractors seek classification as ‘essential businesses’

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Editor's note: City and county leaders on Tuesday afternoon announced a stay-at-home order, with construction counting under essential businesses.

Construction industry groups are calling for associated businesses to be deemed "essential" during potential “shelter in place” orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Springfield Contractors Association, The Builders' Association and Associated General Contractors of America yesterday issued a letter to city and county officials. SCA Executive Director Megan Short today said the groups received a thank-you message but no clarification on their request.

"We are hopeful construction will be listed as an essential business," Short said via email. "Several states and cities have already listed it, but we are waiting to see to what capacity it will be included.

"Construction workers’ skills are essential now and in the coming weeks to construct, maintain and repair critical infrastructure, to build temporary health facilities and to retrofit/expand existing ones."

Mayor Ken McClure announced March 17 that businesses that provide entertainment or recreation and bar or food establishments should close except for delivery, drive-thru and carry out services, according to past reporting.

Springfield-Greene County Health Department Director Clay Goddard yesterday said in a statement that "city and county leaders are working right now to craft stricter orders that will provide direct guidance for the closure of additional nonessential businesses.”

"This is thoughtful work that is a community effort," Goddard said.

City of Springfield spokeswoman Melissa Haase said via email an announcement regarding nonessential businesses may be made today; a shelter in place rule requiring residents to stay at their homes had not been made as of The Dig’s deadline. City spokeswoman Cora Scott said the Springfield-Greene County Health Department is slated to deliver an update at 3 p.m. Tuesday. A post from the Greene County clerk's office this afternoon shows officials preparing to issue a stay at home order.

The SCA represents general contractors, architects, engineers and other industry vocations. The group's website lists more than 320 member firms.

Reporter Kathryn Hardison contributed.

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