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Civil engineering firm building new facility at BTR Park

Aug. 30, 2007

KALAMAZOO--One of the area's fastest growing civil engineering firms will build its new Kalamazoo facility at Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park.

Fleis & VandenBrink Engineering Inc. will occupy a parcel near the park entrance at the corner of Drake Road and Parkview Drive. Groundbreaking for the new 10,000-square-foot, LEED-certified facility is expected to take place in late fall, with occupancy scheduled for early in 2008. LEED--Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design--certification is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability and "green" building techniques. F&V Construction Management will be the builder.

"We're a high-tech, aggressive firm, and we want to work with the University, maximize our ability to recruit top-notch students and grow in a place that makes sense for our firm geographically," says F&V President Larry J. Fleis. "We consider this a golden opportunity to accomplish all three goals."

The company, which was founded in 1993, has seven offices in Indiana and Michigan, including its corporate headquarters in Grand Rapids. Other Michigan offices are located in Kalamazoo, Lansing and Traverse City. In Indiana, the firm has offices in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. Fleis says the new Kalamazoo facility will provide critical support for the northern Indiana offices as well as enhance work with the company's southwest Michigan client base.

Municipal services are the company's principal area of focus, and more than 100 cities, villages, counties and townships in Michigan are among its clients. Locally, longtime customers have been the cities of Kalamazoo and Portage and Kalamazoo County as well as surrounding communities that include the city of Plainwell, the villages of Augusta, Mattawan and Vicksburg, and many others. Though municipal is F&V's primary client base, the firm provides services for private-sector industrial clients such as John Deere and institutional clients that include more than 59 universities and public school systems, Spectrum Health, St. Mary's Health and numerous private-development clients.

F&V offers services in such areas as civil and environmental engineering; architecture; transportation; drainage, water and wastewater systems; landscape architecture, planning; homeland security; and Geographic Information Systems programs.

With a current employee base of more than 120, F&V was identified as one of the 100 fastest-growing firms in the nation by Zweig White, a Chicago-based business information services media firm and publisher that focuses on architecture, engineering and environmental consulting firms.

The company's growth and its interest in recruiting students were among the primary attractions in selecting the BTR Park, says Bob Miller, WMU associate vice president for community outreach and the University's point person on park development.

"Very early in the process, the principals of Fleis & VandenBrink met with our engineering dean and the leadership and faculty in our Department of Civil and Construction Engineering," says Miller. "On both sides, there was an immediate recognition of just how good a fit this partnership would be."

Fleis says his company is interested in a full partnership with WMU's relatively young civil engineering program, and he would like F&V employees to offer seminars for students and faculty and serve as adjunct professors.

"We really want to become part of the culture, and I think we bring a valuable perspective about the skills our engineers use every day that we can share with the faculty who are helping students prepare for their careers," says Fleis. "We're excited about the partnership and the opportunity to help grow a new generation of engineers."

In addition to civil engineering, Fleis says his company has a growing interest in the use of Geographic Information Systems and would like to work with students and faculty in the information technology and geography disciplines.

"The kinds of things you can do with GIS--mapping and modeling, for instance--are indispensable for the kind of work we do," Fleis says. "This is a good opportunity to see what

WMU has to offer in those areas as well."

WMU's Business Technology and Research Park shares the University's 265-acre Parkview Campus with the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Launched in late 1999, the park is home to companies in the fields of advanced engineering, information technology and life sciences. The park is one of 11 sites around Michigan designated as a SmartZone by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Information is available at www.wmich.edu/btr.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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