Construction in Prince George was cooking with gas in 2022, when a record $251.72 million in building permits were issued in the city.

It was a busy year for the region and the 300-plus members who make up the Northern Regional Construction Association (NRCA) as companies continue to reshape the housing and commercial building landscape.

But with everybody pre-occupied with running their own businesses, the opportunity to network, share ideas and pick up on trends in construction is not easily accomplished. That’s the motivation behind the NRCA’s inaugural Build the North Conference/Annual General Meeting, set for March 22-23 at the Coast Prince George Hotel.

“Given the industry challenges with cost escalations and labour shortages and coming out of that, but yet with a high amount of proposed projects, it was just time to bring in some education and some industry experts to reignite that passion in the industry,” said NRCA chief executive officer Nicole Bryant.

“There’s a lot going on in tendering policies and contracts and negotiation and just getting that information out to our members is important. It’s a really good opportunity for the industry to reconnect after operating in silos for a long time.”

The B.C. Construction Association will be there to explain to members details about its apprenticeship programs which provides up to $40,000 in incentives for contractors hiring first-year employees. Group discussions will focus on risk mitigation and management, harm reduction strategies and building social media brands.

Apple Canada will send a representative to talk about digital transformation and technology and advances in augmented reality and how to utilize wearable safety devices like the Apple watch to enhance jobsite safety.

Former B.C. Lions centre Angus Reid, a three-time CFL all-star who won the Grey Cup championship with the Lions in 2006 and 2011, will be the keynote speaker at the conference on Wednesday, March 22. Reid will talk about the life lessons he learned on the football field and how he developed into a team leader under the influence of Lions head coach Wally Buono, his coach throughout most of his CFL 14-season CFL career. Working with Buono inspired Reid to write his autobiography – Thank You Coach – Learning How to Live by Being Taught How to Play.

“One of the big focuses right now in the workforce planning in the industry is how do you become that employer of choice, how do you build a team that people want to join and how do we draw newcomers into the construction industry,” said Bryant/

“As far as leading and driving a team, (Reid) talks a lot about your huddles and how you only have a short amount of time to gain trust and how that developed over time and how that leadership with his coach was integral to develop that trust.”

The NRCA grew out of the 2016 amalgamation of the Prince George Construction Association and BC Construction Association North, which also linked smaller associations in Fort St. John, Terrace, Prince Rupert, Williams Lake and Quesnel.

Bryant was hired to lead the NRCA last June, after several years at Bell Mobility, and she has deep family ties to the local building trades. Her grandfather Glen started Bryant Electric in 1960 and the company has been tied to the association since 1961.

“I’ve known this industry and the players for a long time through family connections, so it was really exciting to take the helm here and be an advocate for these companies that really built our community,” she said.

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