Market Watch

Billions for Semiconductor, Data Center Mega-Projects

A roundup of the latest construction funding news includes the commitment of billions of dollars for semiconductor manufacturing facilities, Indiana tech projects, airport infrastructure, and PFAS chemical cleanup.

Massive CHIPS and Science Act grants announced

The White House recently announced a flurry of grants for semiconductor manufacturing facilities through the CHIPS and Science Act, including $6.6 billion for the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to construct a third semiconductor factory in Phoenix, where it has already invested more than $65 billion. In addition, Micron Technology will receive $6.1 billion in grants and up to $7.5 billion in loans to build factories in New York State and Idaho; Samsung Electronics will receive up to $6.4 billion in grants to develop a manufacturing and research cluster in Texas; and Intel will receive $8.5 billion in grants and up to $11 billion in loans for projects in Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio, and Oregon.

Tech giants race to Hoosier State

In the largest single economic development project in Indiana’s history, Amazon announced plans in April to invest $11 billion to build a data center campus in St. Joseph County. The news came on the heels of other Indiana mega-projects announced this year, including a $3.9 billion SK hynix advanced chip packaging and R&D facility for AI products in West Lafayette, a $2 billion Google data center in Fort Wayne, and an $800 million Meta data center in Jeffersonville.

FAA reauthorization takes flight

Congressional negotiators announced an agreement on April 29 for a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In addition to hiring more air traffic controllers to boost airline safety, the bill requires the FAA to install additional runway technology at medium- and large-hub airports. The agreement increases five-year funding for infrastructure projects under the Airport Improvement Program to $19.4 billion. The bill still must pass both houses.

$1 billion for testing, cleanup of PFAS chemicals

In April, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the first-ever national, legally enforceable drinking water standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a set of synthetic chemicals linked to cancer and serious health effects. In addition, the EPA announced $1 billion in funding for PFAS detection and treatment systems for drinking water supplies to meet the new standards. 

Technology Corner

Could AI Make the Human Element More Important?

Human resources

Artificial intelligence’s breakneck growth has been matched by a proliferation of fear-inducing headlines warning that “AI is coming for your job.” But rather than AI making the human element obsolete, some studies predict that just the opposite might occur. If AI eventually levels the technological capabilities of AE firms, the human capabilities of your staff would become even more of a differentiator from the competition. “The more AI-enabled work becomes, the more important human imagination becomes,” Deloitte’s 2024 Global Human Capital Trends report asserts. “New technologies are becoming better at replicating the functional and technical aspects of work. And yet much of the differentiation going forward will likely come from what humans do or evolve to do, not technology.”

Soft targets

According to a survey of nearly 700 global business leaders published in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly in November 2023, employers expect that AI will make them increasingly prioritize “soft skills,” particularly those related to ethics and interpersonal communication. Frequent AI users reported that integrity will become the skill most important in the AI age, followed by strategic vision, the ability to inspire others, and motivation and drive. In addition, 72% of respondents predicted that AI would make verbal communication more important, while 50% said AI would make written communication less important. 

Thinking big

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2023 report asked companies to forecast which worker skills would grow in importance by 2027. Topping the list was creative thinking, cited by 73% of respondents. Following right behind were analytical thinking (cited by 72%); curiosity and lifelong learning (cited by 67%); and resilience, flexibility, and agility (cited by 66%). All those human capabilities ranked higher than AI and big data skills, which were named by 60% of companies. 

Confidence intervals

A 2022 Deloitte global survey found that 68% of business and HR leaders were confident in their knowledge of their workers’ hard skills, but only 48% said the same about their awareness of workers’ human capabilities, such as empathy and curiosity. Firms can close this gap by collecting assessments of soft skills from peers and managers. Hiring processes should include evaluations of candidates’ curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Firm leaders can model the importance of empathy and curiosity by consistently asking questions of and listening to employees.

The New Workplace

Gen Z Reporting for Duty

OK, zoomer

Move over, boomers. The “zoomers” have arrived. According to employer-review website Glassdoor, members of Generation Z (those born after 1996) will outnumber baby boomers in the workplace by the end of 2024. Gen Zers have come of age amid dizzying technological innovations, political unrest, and a global pandemic. Growing up in a world where change was the only constant has forced Gen Zers to be flexible and resilient. 

Full contact

Although Gen Zers may be the first digital natives to enter the workplace, that doesn’t mean they don’t crave interpersonal contact. An April 2023 survey of 700 college graduates by virtual student-health company TimelyCare found that 53% wanted a fully in-person work environment, while only 21% desired a fully remote setup. 

Speak easy

As part of the Adobe Future Workforce Study, released in September 2023, a survey of more than 1,000 Gen Zers starting their careers in medium- to large-sized companies found that they are willing to speak their minds. Nearly 90% said they were comfortable with providing feedback to peers and colleagues, and 74% reported being comfortable providing feedback to managers and supervisors. In addition, 56% said they wanted to work for a company outspoken about social issues. 

Developmental delay

In addition to upending the lives of recent college graduates, the COVID-19 pandemic may have stunted the development of their interpersonal skills—such as communicating and networking. A July 2023 survey by found that 40% of business executives believed recent college graduates were unprepared for the workforce. Consulting firms Deloitte, PwC, and KPMG have responded by offering new campus hires specialized training in which they learn to read body language, hone communication and leadership skills, have in-person conversations with clients and colleagues, and deliver presentations. Firms should also consider pairing Gen Zers with mentors. While 83% of Gen Zers surveyed in the Adobe Future Workforce Study said a workplace mentor is crucial to their careers, only 52% had one.

Searching for an external Board member?

Our Board of Directors candidate database has over one hundred current and former CEOs, executives, business strategists, and experts from both inside and outside the AE and Environmental Consulting industry who are interested in serving on Boards. Contact Tim Pettepit via email or call him directly at (617) 982-3829 for pricing and access to the database.

Are you interested in serving on an AE firm Board of Directors? 

We have numerous clients that are seeking qualified industry executives to serve on their boards. If you’re interested, please upload your resume here.

Weekly real-time market and industry intelligence from Morrissey Goodale.

Read Newsletter

The AE industry’s weekly go-to source for the latest information on M&A deals and trends.

Read Newsletter

Bringing you snapshots of key market sectors, business management ideas, and must-know information for managing and leading your firm.

Read Newsletter

Brining you new ideas for impacting people performance including the latest on company culture, work-life balance, time management, developing next-generation leaders, and new management ideas being implemented in other industries.

Read Newsletter

An insider’s look at the latest trends in attracting, recruiting, retaining, and hiring people in the competitive AE industry.

Read Newsletter

A guide to help you better understand how AE firms are valued and – perhaps more importantly – what you can do to build value now.

Read Newsletter

Overviews on what industry consolidation means and forecasts for where activity, deals, and pricing is headed.

Read Newsletter

At-a-glance snapshots of key market indicators in various market sectors and geographies.

Read Newsletter

Achieve goals and outcomes and reshape your future!

Purchase Today!

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Stay up-to-date in real-time.