New Jersey's "Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation" (RREM) grant program, funded by part of New Jersey's share of the $60 billion Federal appropriation for recovery from Hurricane Sandy, will be a big shot in the arm for New Jersey's construction industry. But small building companies say they are unlikely to share in the wealth, reports the Newark Star-Ledger ("Small builders in N.J. feel left out of state's Sandy reconstruction grant program," by Erin O'Neill).
"As the state rolls outs the RREM grant program, some New Jersey-based contractors ... are realizing that they either aren't capable or aren't willing to meet the rigorous requirements to participate," the paper reports. "Contractors who want to work through the grant program must first qualify with the state and part of that process involves showing proof they have a bonding capacity of at least $1 million and the resources to complete a project within 90 days."
Joseph Vento, president of Voorhees, New Jersey-based Glendale Builders, was hopeful enough to attend an informational meeting on the program, but left the session disappointed, the Star-Ledger reports. "I thought that if there was one house they were going to award I could help out with one house, maybe two," he said. "I was not the proper size for the type of contract they were awarding."
The program comes with tight state control, the paper reports: "The state maintains strict control over that grant money. Homeowners are not allowed to chose who rebuilds their home and they do not directly receive the funding. It's deposited into an escrow account, along with other funds from the homeowner that are needed to complete construction. The contractor selected for the work is paid from that account."
Said Richard Van Osten, executive vice president of the Builders League of South Jersey: "When this was originally proposed, I think a lot of contractors, especially the smaller guys, thought this may be an opportunity to get some work and help rebuild the Shore … [but] when they went through the program it seemed like it was geared to larger builders."