As this new year gets underway, it’s hard to say what is more exciting for those of us in the industrial wire rope business: an economy with energy that seems to promise strong potential for the upcoming year, or an NFL playoff season that has included a match-up of two teams that each boast suspension bridges in their backyards, relatively speaking. Collectively, the cable on those bridges at the straits of the Golden Gate and of Mackinac could wrap around Earth at the equator nearly five times! Together they boast 120,000 miles of “rope”, made from galvanized steel wire.

2024 Construction Outlook – Bridge Construction and Maintenance

In 2024, bridge construction and maintenance represent just a portion of the opportunity ahead in the wire rope industry by way of the recently passed infrastructure bills. Most of us know the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) allocated $61 billion for infrastructure projects across all fifty states. Besides bridges and highways, the act provides funding toward projects in the aviation and energy industries.

Furthermore, looking beyond federal projects, 2024 also offers promise in private sectors including manufacturing, entertainment and hospitality and sporting venues and stadiums. At a macro level, economists were foreseeing potential growth in construction spending of about +2%. Building Design and Construction reported this forecast in July of 2023, when expectations existed for at least a mild recession. We hear more recently that we’ve accomplished a “soft landing” on the economic front, followed by a robust jobs report for January. The economic energy does seem strong!

The anticipated construction activity in the manufacturing sector is certainly interesting and encouraging. Following decades of off-shoring, American manufacturing is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. As related in the recent Construction Dive article, “Construction’s manufacturing boom: Mapping the biggest facilities underway in the US”, investments surpassing $640 billion thus far support manufacturing projects spanning multiple sectors including biotechnology, semiconductors, EV batteries and clean energy to name just a few.

While Forbes cautioned in its article, “U.S. Manufacturers Reshoring, But It Will Take A Long Time”, the surge in construction in the industry is unmistakable. The chart below exhibits an increase in manufacturing construction investment of about 50% in 2023 versus prior years.