How the Home Builders Association of Northern Michigan gives back to the community and inspires interest in construction.
To support underfunded trade programs at local schools and lessen the talent gap in the building industry, the Home Builders Association of Northern Michigan developed “Garage Build,” a program to fund career-tech programs and offer students a real-life building experience.
At its annual home show, HBA Northern Michigan auctions a garage to be built by students on the winning bidder’s property. Garage Build allows “students to get practical, on-the-job experience working with real builders, potential employers, in the field,” says Executive Officer Scott Herceg, CAE. “Students gain real-life experiences they can translate into a job immediately after graduation.”
At the home show, a minimum bid is required to help purchase materials, and throughout the year, HBA Northern Michigan solicits local businesses—mostly in the construction realm—to provide cash or materials needed to complete the project. Any remaining funds are pooled and distributed among the schools HBA partners with. In 2015, $11,000 was divided among four high schools.
“School boards and instructors are extremely appreciative of the dollars, because it helps fund the programs in the schools,” Herceg says. Teachers decide how the money is used. Some help students study construction-related trades at a community college or trade school. Others may give students a stipend to buy their first set of tools.
The average age of a builder or licensed contractor is 56, Herceg says, so getting young people interested in the building industry is crucial. “What we’re doing is making a difference, and that’s important,” Herceg says. “We’re really proud of it.”