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The brakes stay on.

Construction Industry Continues To Suffer; Arkansas Architectural And Engineering Firms Feel The Pinch

The construction industry has been in decline in Arkansas and elsewhere since passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

At least that's the assessment of Eugene Levy, chairman and chief executive officer of Cromwell Architects-Engineers of Little Rock.

"That just put the brakes on construction," Levy says.

Levy thinks lower interest rates could revive the construction sector, but he says it will take time.

"I'm hoping |lower interest rates~ will help the industrial side," he says. "In recent years, we have not seen much capital investment by industry."

Despite the slump, Cromwell has maintained its employee base.

"We haven't really grown that much the past few years," Levy admits. "When we have had a need for a special talent, like another electrical engineer or a really inspiring architectural graduate, we've made a place."

Cromwell's business is nationwide. Recently announced projects include:

* A business building at Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia.

* Three hospitals in Missouri and Mississippi.

* A 1,500-student middle school at Russellville.

* A helicopter maintenance facility at Camp Robinson.

On-Site Engineering

Like the Cromwell firm, CEI Engineering Associates of Bentonville operates nationwide. The 98-member firm has 17 employees in a branch office at Fresno, Calif., and one employee at San Francisco. The California employees are involved mostly with on-site engineering for shopping centers.

CEI is involved in about 60 shopping center projects, according to Michael Shupe, who heads the firm. Almost half of those projects are for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville.

CEI has experienced the most growth in the public sector, however. The firm specializes in municipal and environmental projects.

"We probably have more landfills designed or under design than any |engineering firm~ in Arkansas," Shupe says.

In 1990, CEI added a subsidiary, EGIS, a wetland and water consulting firm. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently awarded EGIS a contract to study the water quality of Beaver Lake, the main water source for northwest Arkansas.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:construction industry
Author:Gibson, Carolyn
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Jan 20, 1992
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