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Tampa Bay area construction job growth looks good

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A few years ago Chris LaFace worried his business, a site development construction company, wouldn't survive the recession.

"It was booming in 2006," LaFace, President of Ripa and Associates, a site development construction company, said. "In 2007 it just shut off like a faucet. The next three years were pretty bad."

LaFace said he had to lay off employees in 2007 and 2008. He wasn't alone. For a period of time the bay area lost more construction jobs than any other metro region in the country. Things are finally looking up in the bay area construction business. According to a report from the Associated General Contractors, Tampa ranked 96 out of 339 metro areas for creating jobs from Jan 2012 to Jan 2013. In that year construction employers reported 2,100 new jobs. It might not sound like a lot but comparatively it's a step in the right direction.

"We've been extremely fortunate," said LaFace. "We've increased our employees by over 30 percent in the last year. That's 100 people."

Chib Anderson, a Coldwell Banker Realtor, says her business is also coming back strong.

"All of the sudden the phone just started ringing and things started happening," Anderson said. "We're going 'what's going on?' All the sudden we're in a situation where we can't find houses fast enough."

Even with the up tick in business, LaFace is cautious.

"The buzz word is cautiously optimistic," LaFace said. "Everybody is nervous. We think 'what are the fundamentals causing this?' I think in our area it's pent up demand because not a lot of construction has happened in the last few years."

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