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Weekly Briefing: March 25-29, 2024

Week of March 25, 2024

Palisades Nuclear Plant in Michigan to Restart Operations, Boosting U.S. Nuclear Energy Sector

  • The U.S. Energy Department has approved a $1.52 billion loan guarantee to Holtec International to restart the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan, which ceased operations in May 2022.

  • The loan guarantee is conditional on the facility receiving regulatory approvals and fulfilling other requirements. The plant is expected to operate until at least 2051.

  • The move is part of a broader effort to revive nuclear energy in the U.S., as nuclear power plants produce electricity without emitting greenhouse gases.

  • The revival of nuclear plants and the push for smaller modular reactors present opportunities for the AEC industry, driving demand for specialized architectural design, engineering expertise, and consulting services in the nuclear energy sector.


Inflation Dampens Impact of Nonresidential Construction Spending Growth

  • Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, spending on nonresidential construction has increased significantly, but inflation has limited the real increase to about 13%.

  • The growth in construction spending is due to construction firms charging more for the services they deliver, not because they are offering more services.

  • The greatest increase in spending among different construction sectors since the start of the pandemic has been in manufacturing construction, with a 187.3% rise.

  • The leading challenge for most contractors is a shortage of skilled workers, a situation expected to continue due to the number of mega projects and public infrastructure projects lined up for the next several years.

March 25, 2024

Olsson Associates (Olsson), a Nebraska-based engineering and design firm, has acquired FTN Associates Ltd. (FTN), an Arkansas-based water and environmental engineering consulting firm specializing in designing solutions to meet the needs of clients in water, wastewater, natural resources, solid waste, and Clean Water Act compliance. The acquisition will combine FTN's operations with Olsson's full scope of engineering consulting disciplines and brings 55 FTN employees to Olsson offices. Brad Strittmatter, CEO of Olsson, commented, "Olsson has been in the Arkansas market for about six years, so we knew of FTN's strong reputation for quality work. When we met their leadership, we were impressed by their collaborative approach and technical excellence. Their services align well with ours and FTN is well respected by their clients."


March 25, 2024

Environmental Design Group (EDG), an Ohio-based planning, design, and civil engineering services firm, has acquired BCS, LLC (BCS), an Ohio-based engineering, surveying, right-of-way acquisition, and environmental services firm. The acquisition supports EDG's strategic goals and bolster their offerings and capabilities. EDG released a statement following the acquisition announcement; "The newly acquired team shares EDG's core values of trust, sustainability, family, collaboration, and integrity, making BCS an ideal partner in the firm's mission to deliver exceptional results while making a positive impact of the communities both firms serve."


March 26, 2024

WT Partnership (WT), a United Kingdom-based international cost management and advisory firm, has acquired SSA Quantity Surveyors Ltd (SSAQS), a Canada-based professional quantity surveying services firm serving the Transportation, Healthcare, Commercial, Retail, First Nation Development, Government, Research, Laboratories, and Residential and Hotels sectors. The acquisition supports WT's strategic goal of accelerated growth in the Canadian market. Tim Spiegel, Senior Principal at SSAQS, commented, "It's very exciting to join WT as it grows its Quantity Surveying and P3 advisory practices across North America as part of an international business of over 2,000+ staff. As privately held, independent businesses, we have similar cultures and a growth mindset, with a strong focus on people's career development and our clients' success."


March 26, 2024

AE Works, a Pennsylvania-based building design and consulting firm specializing in planning, strategy, and security risk management services, has acquired WTW Architects (WTW), a Pennsylvania-based full-service architecture, planning, and interior design firm specializing in higher education design. The transaction bolsters AE Works' resources and helps diversify their client base. AE Works Founder, President, and CEO Michael Cherock, commented on the acquisition, "We are thrilled to have WTW Architects join AE Works. WTW's design leadership in delivering notable projects in Pittsburgh and beyond, especially in educational facilities, now now combined with our track record of work nationwide for large federal agencies as well as state and local government agencies and commercial clients."


March 27, 2024

The Vertex Companies, LLC (Vertex), a Massachusetts-based forensic engineering and construction consulting services firm, backed by Wind Point Partners, has acquired TriLogix Consulting, LLC (TriLogix), a New Jersey-based construction claims, scheduling, and risk management firm. The acquisition bolsters Vertex's suite of specialized services and adds TriLogix's team of experienced consulting and testifying professionals to the firm. Jeff Picard, Chief Strategy of Officer of Vertex, commented, "The addition of the amazing team at TriLogix represents our continued commitment to better outcomes for our clients, colleagues, and communities ... this partnership adds great synergies that benefit the organization and furthers our commitment to providing our clients with the best possible construction project control services in the industry."

Earlier this month, Ulteig participated in the Introduce a Girl to Engineering Initiative, or "Girl Day". Ulteig's Fargo office, alongside North Dakota State University, hosted a group of middle school girls so that they could meet mentors and learn more about how engineers shape the world. One Ulteig engineer recounted her own experience attending "Girl Day" over a decade ago, noting that "It’s been a rewarding journey, going from a young girl in the audience learning from engineers to becoming an engineer myself." Ulteig's participation in the event exemplifies its commitment to community and nurturing the next generation of diverse talent in STEM disciplines.


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