Competitive Edge in Economic Development

Competitive Edge in Economic Development

Chris Pappas- City Engineer, City of Calera

As a result of the ongoing economic downturn, this phrase is making more frequent appearances in a wider variety of places. By definition, economic development is a constant, collaborative effort of policy makers and communities to promote the standard of living and economic health in a region. This development occurs in many forms from providing infrastructure and services, such as highways and affordable housing, to creating jobs and cultivating new businesses. Economic development is economics on the societal level, and the AEC industry plays a vital role.

Economic Development and the AEC Industry  Caleracasestudy (2)

For civil engineers, architects, city planners and developers, integration to evolve construction and build a bridge between science and society remains at the core of economic development. “Economic development means working  with developers to attract businesses or industries into a region that, in the end, will result in a net increase in both  revenues and jobs for the community,” said Chris Pappas, City Engineer for  the City of Calera in central  Alabama. And he would know. Pappas and his department are typically the first stop in  the economic development  process for the City of Calera as all annexation, zoning and planning processes originate  in their office. “Economic  development means working with developers to attract businesses or industries into a region that, in the end, will result in a net increase in both revenues and jobs for the community.” The department assists developers in the site selection process by providing preliminary site planning and cost estimates–provisions that have been drastically expedited thanks to recent advancements in land development technology.

Winning Future Projects

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SITEOPS—revolutionary, site-optimization software for larger cities, engineering departments and firms, but the AEC industry—gives land developers, architects and at a fraction of the cost.”
engineers, like Pappas, the ability to conduct rapid site evaluations, explore “what-if” scenarios and generate millions of layout combinations optimized for cost and efficiency. 


Pappas considers SITEOPS a vital and valuable economic development tool for the City of Calera, as his department is now able to provide an accelerated site selection service to developers and compete with larger municipalities. “Like many other city engineering departments, we operate with a small staff,” said Pappas. “SITEOPS gives us those extra ‘hands on deck’ that are available to larger cities, engineering departments and firms, but at a fraction of the cost.”

The Calera engineering department has utilized SITEOPS for a variety of projects, including a large mixed-use site accommodating a medical facility, multi-family housing and a business park, as well as several stand-alone sites for office buildings and small retail operations. “Every one of these projects is an example of economic development,” said Pappas, “as they all originated as new prospective businesses not currently operating in Calera. Therefore, the development of these projects brings in new revenue and jobs to stimulate the economy.”

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