"Governors and economic development agencies use the phrase all the time now. It has even been modified--a witness testifying at a House of Representatives hearing spoke of 'shovel-readiness' in October. Since Obama's 'Meet the Press' appearance, a string of governors, including Maryland's Martin O'Malley, have issued statements crowing about their shovel-ready projects.
"Shovel-ready, in other words, has arrived." -- "The Obama Buzzword That Hit Pay Dirt," WashingtonPost.com, 1/8/09
I heard this term (referring to construction projects that are ready to be implemented) for the first time today on NPR and was surprised to find it in fairly common use. There's even a shovelready.com.