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Released November 19, 2004


HATTIESBURG - An alumnus of The University of Southern Mississippi who is a leader in the nation's housing industry predicts an expansion of the housing market and job opportunities for students majoring in various engineering technologies.

Bobby Rayburn, president of the National Association of Home Builders, was the keynote speaker recently for a banquet hosted by the Southern Miss NAHB chapter. A 1969 graduate of Southern Miss, Rayburn said the future looks bright for new construction in the industry, which means not only opportunities for new homeowners, but also an expanded job market.

"The sky's the limit," said Rayburn, who lives in Jackson and is president of Rayburn and Associates. "The truth is, there are a lot of opportunities in the housing industry, and you can start in one place and wind up in a different place (within the industry)."

Speaking before students enrolled in the College of Science and Technology's School of Construction, many of them architectural and construction engineering technology majors, Rayburn emphasized the need for skilled professionals at the entry level, which could lead to lucrative careers as building contractors. "We'll (the association) help them move up in the business," Rayburn said.

This year, approximately 2 million homes and apartments will have been constructed, and Rayburn said that through 2012, approximately 1 million homes will be built each year, meaning more available jobs in an industry that he said counts for nearly 16 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. "That's a huge number," he said.

Rayburn said the association's theme this year is "Housing America's Working Families," people Rayburn said provide valuable services in society, including teachers, firefighters, police officers and nurses, among others. The association is working with public officials to minimize obstacles to homeownership by reducing red tape, as well as dealing with issues such as large lot zoning and other land use practices Rayburn said make it difficult for first-time homebuyers to attain suitable housing.

"Too often, rather than live in the community where they work, they live in communities miles from their jobs (to avoid these issues)," he said. "Our focus is to help families find homes where they work."

A.J. Rosier, president of the Southern Miss NAHB chapter, said Rayburn's presentation was an inspiration to students interested in making careers in the housing industry. "I'm really pleased that he could attend our event, and it's a definite plus that he's a Southern Miss graduate," Rosier said.

At the banquet, architectural engineering students Jessica Fly of Scobey and Adam Howard of Millry, Ala., both seniors at Southern Miss, received a donation of scholarship funds from the Greater Hattiesburg Homebuilders Association.

Home Builders Institute, the workforce development arm of the National Association of Home Builders, is dedicated to the advancement and enrichment of craft education and training programs serving the needs of the residential construction industry. For more than 30 years, HBI has trained skilled workers in residential construction, promoted the industry as a career and helped the NAHB membership address its need for qualified employees.

The NAHB Student Chapters program is administered by HBI and works to help enrich the educational experiences of students enrolled in construction-related studies and training. More than 3,000 student members at 151 high schools, technical schools, colleges, universities and HBI Job Corps programs enjoy the benefits of membership in NAHB through participation in competitions, professional networks, conferences and industry exhibits.

For more information, contact A.J. Rosier at (601) 329-6610.


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December 9, 2004 12:13 PM