Specialty Fabrics Review April 2024 - 51

understanding the requirements and
revising their standard specification
to follow BABA. "
In addition, there was initial
confusion about what category
geosynthetics fall into, but guidance
released in August 2023 clarifies
that most geosynthetics classify as
construction materials. " Yes, there
will be some exceptions to this
depending on the specific product,
especially composite materials, but
most geosynthetics that are already
in standard DOT specifications will
classify as construction materials, "
Lostumbo says.
BABA affects how companies
conduct business
The BABA provision is affecting
how geosynthetics companies are
doing business, both within the
U.S. and abroad. " I think global
geosynthetic manufacturers are
already building U.S. plants to fit into
the Buy American provisions, " Curry
says. " Folks are looking to establish
manufacturing facilities here in the
U.S. They are looking to support
sourced materials that are compliant
with the law because there's a huge
opportunity. There's a lot of new
money going into the system.
" I think companies are making
business decisions based on the law, "
Curry adds. " They need to remain
competitive, especially when you are
talking about products with waferthin
profit margins. They are looking
at all the angles when they make
business decisions. "
Labor shortage could
affect rollout
Another challenge affecting the law's
projects is the skilled labor shortage.
" Distributors and contractors are
telling me they can't find labor, "
SpecialtyFabricsReview.com 51
Gardner says. " That's the biggest
issue facing us now. "
" Workforce issues are driving
up delays in implementation and
rollout across the country, " Curry says.
" You just don't have enough people to
execute work. "
The American Council of
Engineering Companies estimates
that the infrastructure law will create
82,000 full- and part-time jobs in
engineering and design services-
and that estimate comes with the
engineering workforce already at
full employment before
implementation of the law.
" I hear from distributors,
contractors and producers that they
are paying more for jobs, " Gardner
says. " Everyone is having to pay more
to keep the labor they have. "
Looking forward
While there are hurdles to overcome,
Gardner, Curry and Lostumbo agree
that the IIJA promises to be a boon
for geosynthetics companies.
" I feel this is going to be good for
our industry, " Gardner says. " This is
all about what's going to happen. "
" I do think there will be a big benefit
to the geosynthetic market in North
America because of this law, " Curry
says. " I think a policy like BABA, if
not implemented properly, and if
companies are not doing their due
diligence, could hurt that growth. "
Annemarie Mannion is a freelance writer based
in Willowbrook, Ill.
How can companies
make the most
of the Infrastructure
Investment and
Jobs Act?
It's crucial for geosynthetics
companies to know and
understand the implications
of the law. Jonathan Curry,
executive director of the Erosion
Control Technology Council,
advises being proactive about
gathering information and
understanding the law. " Get
active. Track data. Look state to
state for trends, " he says.
Reviewing federal and
state websites such as the
White House website or
the U.S. Department of
Transportation is one way to
access up-to-date information.
In addition, trade associations
often have experts who track
and provide updated information.
With its Build America,
Buy America rule, Curry
emphasizes that manufacturers
will need to know what's going
into their products and where
those items are produced.
He doesn't expect manufacturers
will have anyone but
themselves to rely on for that.
" Whether it is a manufactured,
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natural or assembled product,
I think it is incumbent on the
manufacturers to know the
sourcing, " he says. " They are
going to have to do that work on
their own. But sourcing materials
is what they do every day. "
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