Bay Area gets stimulus money to create jobs

October 15, 2009 7:10:55 PM PDT
A government watchdog group offered the first solid numbers on the impact of the economic stimulus program. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $16 billion in federal contracts have been awarded to businesses -- large and small. They report having created, or saved, more than 30,000 jobs in construction, on military bases and at national parks.

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The Bay Area is getting stimulus money that will create even more.

When times get lean, work becomes precious. For an object lesson, ask the guys are Granite Excavation based out of San Francisco.

"We had 70 guys. We went down to 35-36," said Brendan Mahar from Granite Excavation.

"When you lay them off and they have been with our company for 13, 15, 20 years, and you have to say there is no work, tomorrow, that is tough," said Tony Martinez from Granite Excavation.

But on tomorrow, they will be working and the days after that too. It is due partly to a developer who looked at this land and saw opportunity and state and federal EPA officials, who have loaned him $1.6 million in stimulus funds to turn this future apartment building from a concept to concrete.

"When you have sites like this that are more than an acre just sitting on vacant land, clearly it has a higher and better use," said developer Patrick McNerny.

"This is the way it's supposed to work. We provide a little bit of seed money, incentive to get the ball rolling, and then the developer can attract a lot more different money," said Maziar Movazzaghi from the California EPA.

It comes in the form of a loan; money that put these men to clearing up this otherwise toxic land in Hunters Point.

This soil has lead in it, but not from the formal naval shipyard, as you might expect. The source of this lead goes back further than that.

The top six feet of topsoil is from after the 1906 earthquake. So before anyone builds here, the dirt needs hauling away.

This project will improve a neighborhood and add affordable housing. Building it will add 300 construction jobs, plus 200 permanent ones when finished.

A little hope never hurts a working man.

"They even cut my hours down to three days a week. That's how bad it is," said Martinez.

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