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Voices of Salute: Matt Morrow, Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield

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The Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield is a regional professional organization representing home builders, residential remodelers and associates. The organization serves the building industry and consumers in a 10-county Ozarks region.

Industry role
The Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield is the voice and advocate for construction professionals leading the way to protect and promote housing, and preserve the American dream of home ownership. The HBA is a professional trade association whose members are committed to ethical business practices, the highest construction standards, the education of our members and the community, and serves as the political voice of the industry.

Innovation
Challenging economic times have brought remarkable innovation when it comes to efficiently running small businesses in the residential construction sector of our economy. While these matters have always been high priorities, builders today are more efficient and diligent about their projects and about satisfying their customers than ever before.

Challenges
As the opportunities in residential construction have become more restricted, the number of builders and subcontracting companies has also declined. Those builders who have navigated these challenging times want to prepare to compete, and differentiate themselves from their competitors as the economy moves into recovery mode. For many, this means professional development and education, and adding professional credentials. The Home Builders Association Charitable Foundation has provided a special scholarship program for local HBA members who seek to earn certifications such as certified graduate builder, remodeler or aging in place specialist designations. In partnership with this scholarship program and with HBA professional designations partner Herrman Lumber, the HBA is offering all the necessary classes in Springfield to obtain five nationally recognized professionally designations in 2011 and 2012. During that two-year period, HBA members are eligible to receive 50 percent scholarships from the foundation if they take these local classes toward their professional development. Dozens of HBA members who did not have professional designations before will have earned one or more designation by the end of 2012 because of the scholarship program. HBA also offers training in other topics, including regulatory compliance, sales and marketing. The organization also serves as the chief regulatory, legislative, political and legal advocate for the industry at the local, state, and federal levels. These efforts increase the opportunity and ability of our members to succeed and provide consumers with a higher level of professionalism and, better and more affordable homes.

Accomplishments
At the end of 2010, the HBA adopted its new three-to-five year strategic plan and 2011 was the first year of that plan. Ambitious goals in membership growth and retention, member engagement, education and advocacy already are under way. An example of these measures is that HBA is building two Habitat for Humanity homes in the Builders’ Circle subdivision. Both homes will be certified to the ANSI Green Building Standard and will demonstrate affordable green building.

2012 outlook
It’s been a rough few years, but we are optimistic that a slow, gradual recovery will begin to take form in 2012. Add to that the fact that our region has several advantages compared to most other markets in the country. We have a diverse jobs economy, with an unemployment rate well below average. People continue to move here, and a growing population ultimately will always need housing. New home inventory levels, while once slightly overbuilt, are now at normal levels. Shortages even exist in a number of price points. All these factors lead us to believe that, just as we entered the downturn later than most, we are likely to emerge sooner – and we are likely never to sink as deeply as many other markets already have. Many of these are the same factors listed by Forbes when it named Springfield one of its Top 10 markets for real estate investment.

Click here for the full Salute to Construction section of the Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2011, issue.[[In-content Ad]]

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