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Hiring revs up as work on digging Fargo-Moorhead flood-control diversion channel draws near

ASN Constructors, the international consortium of companies that will build the diversion and associated public works, expects to employ 800 to 1,000 during the peak of construction in 2023 and 2024.

Graphic: Diversion
The Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion
Troy Becker/The Forum
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FARGO — The international consortium of companies that will build the diversion channel for the metro flood control project is posting "help wanted" signs on social media and electronic billboards as hiring picks up as construction nears.

ASN Constructors, a joint venture of three major construction firms based in Spain, Canada and one with a parent company based in Israel, is seeking a wide variety of workers and apprentices, including construction workers, carpenters and heavy equipment operators for the project, which includes a 30-mile diversion channel.

During peak construction in 2023 and 2024, ASN Constructors expects to have 800 to 1,000 employees working on the project, a wide range of occupations including laborers, buyers, engineers and managers.

Hiring of managers and administrators started last fall, but now ASN Constructors is hiring skilled trades workers and apprentices who will actually build the project, slated for completion in time to protect against extreme flooding by 2027.

"We have a very aggressive schedule," said Rick Holweger, ASN Constructor's workforce development manager. "We have a lot of different openings at the moment."

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ASN Constructors will pay "competitive, above-average wages and a full benefits package," but declined to be specific. Wages meet requirements for projects that involve federal money, Holweger said, and are meant to be attractive in the midst of a tight labor market.

"It is very tough, no matter what industry you're in," he said.

ASN Constructors also offers a paid apprenticeship program for workers who have no experience but are interested in entering the construction workforce. The program allows employees to receive wages while gaining on-the-job experience and hands-on learning.

The programs will be registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Services as part of a North Dakota or Minnesota state apprenticeship program.

So far, ASN Constructors is focusing its recruiting efforts within a 100-mile radius of the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Minnesota, Holweger said.

By fall, ASN Constructors expects to have hired 150 workers. "We've got a really good jump-start," Holweger said.

"We have a very aggressive schedule," he said. "Parts of the project will work through the winter."

In appealing to prospective workers, ASN Constructors is invoking a sense of mission, the chance to help build a project that will protect thousands from catastrophic flooding, and to a sense of history.

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The $3.2 billion diversion, which also involves a 20-mile embankment that will include three gated control structures and building aqueducts and 19 bridges, is the first public-private partnership in North America to build a flood-control project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is designing and supervising construction of the embankment and control structures, two of which are well along, while the diversion channel is a partnership involving the Metro Flood Diversion Authority, comprised of local governments, and the Red River Valley Alliance, the same partners as ASN Constructors: Acciona, Shikun & Binui USA and North America Construction Group.

Those interested in job opportunities offered by ASN Constructors for the diversion project can go online to learn more .

Patrick Springer first joined The Forum in 1985. He covers a wide range of subjects including health care, energy and population trends. Email address: pspringer@forumcomm.com
Phone: 701-367-5294
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