ACEC/Michigan Honors Abonmarche as 2021 Firm of the Year

Benton Harbor, Michigan – Abonmarche is the newest recipient of the prestigious 2021 Firm of the Year Award bestowed annually by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Michigan.

The award, considered the top honor at ACEC/Michigan’s annual Engineering & Surveying Excellence Awards, seeks to shine a spotlight on an ACEC member firm that excels in community engagement, advancement of the engineering profession, and ACEC involvement.

Abonmarche’s roots in community service run deep. For many years, our firm has served as a leader in supporting communities through active volunteerism and charitable donations. In 2020, our leadership developed Philanthropic and Voluntary PTO programs to support the passions of their staff. Abonmarche employees also enjoy a flexible work-life balance that enables them to accomplish goals outside of work, in addition to their career goals.

Our focus on client service is something we stress every minute of every day,” said Chris Cook, President of Abonmarche. “We have invested heavily in leadership training and in the advancement of each of our staff members’ industry certifications, along with a very successful internal technical staff development program.”

In addition to serving on several ACEC committees and forums, Abonmarche regularly mentors emerging firms. Our staff also often serve as a liaison between ACEC/Michigan, local governments, and several state agencies, helping to establish meaningful connections while advancing ACEC/Michigan goals.

“Thank you to ACEC/Michigan, the member firms who have counseled and advised us, our clients, and our staff, for all of the support you’ve provided us as we’ve grown,” said Cook. “We are proud to serve as an active member of ACEC/Michigan, and we are honored to be selected as the ACEC/Michigan 2021 Firm of the Year.”

ACEC/Michigan presented the 2021 Firm of the Year Award to Abonmarche at its annual Engineering & Surveying Excellence Awards Gala, held virtually Friday, February 26, 2021. For more information regarding the awards submission and selection process, visit www.acecmi.org/engineering–surveying-excellence. To learn more about Abonmarche, visit www.abonmarche.com.

Abonmarche Brings Community Crossings Grant to Northern Indiana

The Community Crossings Matching Grant program is part of Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb’s Next Level Roads program, a 20-year, fully funded plan to enhance Indiana’s highways and local roads by awarding communities grants for shovel-ready local road construction projects.

Over the last five years, Indiana has awarded more than $830 million in matching funds to support local road and bridge projects around Indiana.

Abonmarche has been instrumental in helping several communities secure grant funding for local road projects, and it is our goal to bring this grant and its benefits to more of the Northern Indiana communities we serve – helping cities, towns and counties complete additional projects in their jurisdiction to spur community growth and development.

Projects eligible for funding through Community Crossings include road resurfacing, bridge rehabilitation, road reconstruction, small structure replacements, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance in connection with road projects. Material costs for chip sealing and crack filling operations are also eligible for funds.

While this grant presents great opportunities to Hoosier communities, it also presents many hurdles to those who want to apply.

THE CHALLENGE TO INDIANA COMMUNITIES

The grant application and management process can be overwhelming for municipalities of any size, but particularly those communities on the smaller side. Community leaders are trying to balance budgets and staffing limits with the need for supplying added value, community improvements, and future planning.

Each project submitted to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) for funding is carefully evaluated based on need, traffic volume, local support, the impact on connectivity and mobility within the community, and regional economic significance, noted INDOT in a January 2021 news release. The hoops municipalities need to jump through are significant, but hiring a full-service firm like Abonmarche can make grants like Community Crossings attainable.

“We’ve become very well-versed in how the grant works because we started working with it as soon as INDOT released it in 2016 and have continued non-stop every call for projects that has occurred,” says Matt Keiser, Project Manager at Abonmarche Valparaiso. “As the grant and its administration has evolved, we’ve modified our processes to embrace these modifications with our community leaders.  We’ve found that working directly with the Public Works Directors and Clerk-Treasurers, we can properly manage all of the complex moving parts and timeframes involved within the confines of the grant requirements.”

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Community Crossings is open to all towns, cities, and county government units in the State of Indiana.
  • The Community Crossings grant gives approximately $160 million/year, and there are many communities who have lost out, by being unprepared or unresponsive to the grant deadlines.
  • To be eligible for the Community Crossings grant, a municipality must reassess their roadways every two years and update their Pavement Asset Management Plan every year.
  • Matching funds range from 50 to 75% depending on the size of the community.
  • INDOT calls for Community Crossings projects twice each year.
  • The next call for projects is planned to be in July of 2021.

For smaller entities that don’t have the funds and/or staffing, the Community Crossings Matching Grant can be a huge undertaking to try to accomplish in-house. 

“This grant gives you the ability to bring tangible improvements to your community, while staying focused on all of the day-to-day work involved in keeping your community on track and running smoothly”, Keiser notes. “Working with our firm on this grant can save valuable time and resources, taking the minutiae off the backs of everyone from superintendents to road commissioners and public works staff so that they can focus on their everyday work.”

Because the grant process is so involved for Community Crossings, we have touchpoints with our clients throughout the entire year, keeping them up-to-date on progress, upcoming deadlines, and getting the grant off the ground and running in their project.

A STREAMLINED GRANT MANAGEMENT PROCESS

Since an INDOT/LTAP approved Pavement Asset Management Plan is required, Abonmarche completes a field assessment of every road segment, utilizing the PASER Rating System. When the assessment is complete, we analyze the results and create a comprehensive Pavement Asset Management Plan, based on the required elements to qualify for the grant.

Abonmarche then can offer assistance in the selection of the projects to be submitted for grant application. After the project list is finalized, our team helps prepares the grant application along with all of the necessary documentation required for submittal.

Once grant funding is awarded, Abonmarche creates the plans, specifications, and bid documents to secure pricing meeting the States requirements for Public purchasing. For many of our clients, we have also provided construction management services for the duration of the projects to ensure the projects are built to the design standards and the grant application.

“Our fees are stable, and our clients know how much our fees will be for their next years of planning,” Keiser says. “There’s a layer of transparency we build into our process that helps these communities plan for the future in a way that they might not otherwise be able to. That element of planning ahead, and knowing which roads need work ahead of time, is invaluable.”

For more information about how Abonmarche can help bring Community Crossings grant funding to your area, contact Matt Keiser at (219) 246-4195 or at mkeiser@abonmarche.com.

Team Spotlight: Janice Mueller, CADD Tech

Janice Mueller, a CADD Tech at Abonmarche, has been with our firm for more than 20 years, making her one of our resident experts on all things Abonmarche.

  • Early Bird or Night Owl: Early Bird
  • Coffee or Tea: Tea
  • East Coaster or Out West: Out West
  • Favorite Travel Spot: Havasu Falls, an area of waterfalls on the Havasupai Indiana Reservation located in the Grand Canyon, Arizona
  • Creative Outlet: Needlepoint of rock concert tickets. I’m working on one from a Rolling Stones concert that my husband I went to a few years back.
  • Favorite Stones song: Start Me Up

How did your career first take shape?

I earned my degree in Interior Design from Purdue University, and I spent a few years doing corporate and residential design in Fort Wayne.

How did you make the shift to CADD?

At the beginning of my career, there was no CADD; we were all drafting. I went back to school and earned a second degree in CADD at Southwest Michigan College (SMC), and my next-door neighbor, worked at Abonmarche, heard that I was studying CADD. Shortly after that, I started as a CADD Technician at Abonmarche, and I never left!

From your view, what is the most noticeable change in the industry?

The precision in technology is the biggest change I’ve seen throughout the years. When everyone was beginning to make the jump from drafting to CADD – that felt like such a huge shift. Before, you could never draw that precisely. The technology we now have at our fingertips is incredible.

What is your area of focus at Abonmarche?

I work with our surveying and land development teams, as well as with builders and contractors who build homes.   I collaborate with a client to position each house on its lot correctly, taking into consideration a number of competing factors, such as zoning requirements, easements, drainage, municipal services and natural slope of the land for septic design.  Many times, it’s in a subdivision that our own team has designed and developed which is really neat to be able to work on.

When people hand you the plans for a new home, it’s a really rewarding experience to be able to look at the land and the work that needs to be done to create that home, and help manifest that reality for them.

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