Five Questions With: Marcel Valois

Marcel Valois, a former cabinet-level official in two state administrations, is now executive director for the American Council of Engineering Companies of Rhode Island. In this role, he represents more than 30 companies that are engaged in the design and engineering of projects for both public- and private-sector clients. Valois previously was executive director of the R.I. Commerce Corp., as well as an area vice president for the Penske Automotive Group.  He responded recently to questions posed by the Providence Business News.

PBN: Although ACEC-RI has existed only for a year, it is based on a foundation of engineering history and collaboration among companies. Can you expand on this?

VALOIS: ACEC-RI grew from the Rhode Island Consulting Engineers to promote the art and science of engineering and improve the business conditions of consulting engineers. Since then, we have grown to over 32 engineering and related firms representing over 700 employees engaged in civil, transportation, environmental and structural engineering, working with both public and private clients.

PBN: Describe the current state of infrastructure in Rhode Island.

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VALOIS: Significant investment is required to upgrade the quality of our transportation, public utilities and public buildings to meet the highest standards of public safety and to support economic growth. Our members are adapting innovative solutions, specifying quality materials and using construction techniques to improve the longevity and lessen maintenance costs of these assets. We want to ensure that the public’s and client’s expectations and design intent are met at the best-possible cost.

PBN: Describe the impact that the organization has had in its first year.

VALOIS: Our firms employ highly educated and technically proficient professionals and represent the type of companies that the Raimondo administration is targeting for growth in the economic-development strategy. We have been focused on informing decision-makers that our members have the capacity to provide the highest-quality and innovative design services to meet the state’s infrastructure challenges and that significant growth in employment in our industry can occur if they focus on partnering with our firms that have demonstrated a commitment to our state. For example, our member firms have been working with one of our industry’s major clients, the R.I. Department of Transportation, to ensure that the RhodeWorks program and its objective to improve infrastructure is a success. Through a strong working relationship with RIDOT staff and dedication of our firms to meet the schedules and budgets, we feel the program is off to a great start.

PBN: As you begin your second year, what is the main issue or goal for the organization?

VALOIS: ACEC-RI will look at how we can utilize our professional expertise in working with local, state and federal government agencies to help streamline the permitting and regulatory process. This would help elevate the overburdened regulatory process, its drag on economic growth, reduce unnecessary business expense due to delays and the cost of duplicative reviews.

PBN: How has ACEC-RI benefited from your career in economic development?

VALOIS: I appreciate the importance of having skilled engineers as partners from the start to provide invaluable guidance on making good design choices and bringing projects in on time and on budget. Because of that experience, it is easy for me to articulate this value. I also have a good working knowledge of both business and government operations that can be helpful to our member firms that must be proficient in both those arenas to be successful in today’s market. It has been a great fit.

Mary MacDonald is a PBN staff writer. Email her at MacDonald@PBN.com, or you can follow her on Twitter @MaryF_MacDonald