Did you see the Great American Solar eclipse of 2017? So cool! At the electrical Contractor office just north of Washington, D.C., we wore our NASA-approved eclipse safety glasses to watch the moon block out about 80 percent of the sun.

The eclipse was certainly a spectacle to behold, but such an event had significant implications for U.S. productivity. California had to plan for a 4,200-megawatt solar-power outage during the event. On top of that, a projection by outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimated that American businesses would lose $694 million in productivity as workers stopped to gawk in awe.

But what kind of world do we live in if we can’t simply appreciate the Earth, moon and sun aligning?

Soon we’ll follow the eclipse’s path back across the country to Seattle in the other Washington for the NECA Show, our annual hub of productivity-generating knowledge. In fact, there is a tiny chance you’re standing at our booth right now reading this, while one of the editorial team is waiting patiently to answer any questions you may have. If you’re at the show, please come say “hi” and grab a bag (while supplies last). We are at booth No. 1141.

To the issue, we’ve crafted and assembled content to help you maintain your company as a productivity machine. And, as we always have, we highlight the spectacle surrounding the NECA Show.

Susan Casey talked to four contractors working on a gamut of projects in the Emerald City. “Shaping Seattle” takes us to a multifamily high-rise, a shopping center/hotel/residence, a medical center, and a Boeing plant. That covers the bases pretty well.

Bill Atkinson introduces us to several ECs that are putting their money and time where their mouths are in “Giving Back.” These contractors are giving to their communities personally, professionally and financially, and they seem to be enjoying it.

Two of our contributors address the labor shortage in the construction world. Claire Swedberg writes about the challenge of finding ways to maintain the existing workforce while bringing new people into the profession. Read all about it in “Help Wanted.” Jeff Gavin offers an article about the value of trade education in schools as one strategy in “Stemming the Tide.”

In “Safe From the Storm,” Jeff Griffin updates you on projects where the cost of horizontal directional drilling has made undergrounding competitive. And, in “Start Your Engines,” by Chuck Ross, we examine the good fortunes found in electric vehicles’ future.

Finally, we need to call attention to the cover. For this NECA Show issue, Julie called on her father, Morrie Mazur, a journalist and photographer who captured these images 55 years ago. Seattle, with a storied past as a booming logging town and site of the 1962 World’s Fair, has emerged as a hub of advanced technological and software development. It also is the native home of this magazine’s publisher, Andrea Klee. For many reasons, Seattle is exceptional, so we wanted to give this cover special treatment.

We think we succeeded, and we hope you agree.