Area contractor featured in Brokaw Report
December 24, 2006
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A local contractor will be a celebrity of sorts the day after Christmas. Mark Gould, owner of Gould Construction of Glenwood Springs, is the central figure in a documentary, “Tom Brokaw Reports: In the Shadow of the American Dream,” that will air on Tuesday, Dec. 26, on NBC at 6 p.m. Mountain Time.
Brokaw traveled to the Roaring Fork Valley to investigate the debate over illegal immigration. His team chose the topic because of its national importance, said NBC producer Soraya Gage. They focused on the Roaring Fork Valley because of a series on immigration, which ran in the Post Independent last year, that featured Gould.
Gould looks at his largely Hispanic workforce and states a simple fact: He couldn’t make it without them. He said most young Americans disdain the ditch-digging work that’s the backbone of his excavating business. Hispanic immigrants line up for the $14-an-hour jobs.
“The young American male doesn’t want to work that hard,” said Gould who grew up on a farm and was expected to do manual work. “There’s been a societal change compared to what my dad had.”
As with construction, Hispanics are also filling many service jobs here including hotels and fast food restaurants.
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“We settled on Mark Gould when we read the (newspaper) story,” Gage said.
To have an employer’s viewpoint was unusual.
“A lot of employers won’t talk about (immigrant workers),” Gage said. “People who have an opinion and are not afraid to say it, we love people like that.”
NBC News spent from February to October reporting on illegal immigration between Aspen and Vail, where a historically Anglo population has seen a growing in-migration of Hispanics, primarily from Mexico.
They also spent a good deal of time in Gould’s office between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, watching the hiring process.
“The only people lining up for jobs were Hispanics,” she said.
Gage was also quick to point out that Gould went out of his way not to hire illegal immigrants. Employers like Gould “do everything they can to stay within the law,” she said.
Brokaw also spoke with students, teachers and parents in local schools about the growing Hispanic population.
What the NBC team found was a growing sense of unease among Anglos here.
“Nobody wants to come right out and say it, but they’re uncomfortable with the change and becoming a minority,” she said.
Brokaw also interviewed police, doctors and illegal immigrants, as well as controversial Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, who is outspoken in his opposition to illegal immigration.
The documentary shows “a change in society … It’s a big shift, like a quiet revolution,” Gage said.