Year End Reporting – How’s it Going?

Since the middle of December, I’ve been hearing from our clients and prospective clients that they’re undertaking the annual rite of year-end reporting.  Interestingly, this year I’ve heard from more of our prospects as to what a challenge this has become for them:

  • trying to gather data from all of their projects which is often captured differently by different people on each project;
  • putting together and sharing this year’s report format and requirements;
  • getting clarity around what is being measured and what counts – local spend, DBE spend, clarifying wage requirements, etc;
  • were all of our subcontractors compliant with any/all wage requirements;
  • wrestling with the manual capturing of all of that data and getting it entered error-free into an array of spreadsheets;
  • and, finally, could we actually defend the data that we’ve collected if a client asked us for more detail?

These are just a few of the items that I’m hearing.  One of the real challenges is that this pain of year-end reporting is felt just that one time, and while it’s ugly, most people in your organization try to forget about it as quickly as possible, until the dread begins to rise at the beginning of Q4 next year.

What if you could simplify the process for year-end reporting, while simplifying collection and reporting efforts throughout the year, and getting your entire team and projects on the same page?

Whether it’s as simple as ensuring compliance with prevailing wage or tracking the MWDBE spending within all of your subcontracting tiers through all of your projects in a standard way –  that’s where SkillSmart’s InSight platform can help and provide a solution that can be utilized throughout the year – weekly, monthly, quarterly – to manage to your goals. This also includes ways that our InSight platform can produce customized reporting, based on who you’re reporting to or what else you will need to report on.

Now is the time to look for a solution – when the frustrations are real, and you know exactly what challenges your team has faced in addressing the 2023 year-end reports, or even if you need to talk through the challenges your team has faced and walk through our demo with one of our team members.

Fortunately, we have heard from a number of our clients whose lives have become much simpler at this time of year and only have to confirm that the required data is in the system for all of their projects, and then generate their reports with standard and reliable outcomes.

Share your year-end reporting experience with us, and we can explore how InSight can transform your project tracking, making 2023 the final year your business tackled reporting challenges. Allow us to assist you in streamlining your efforts to convey the positive impact of your projects within the communities and markets that you serve.

Wishing you a successful 2024 from the SkillSmart Team!

— Mike Knapp, CEO & Co-Founder, SkillSmart

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Simplifying CRIO Construction Reporting: SkillSmart InSight Technology for Detroit and Wayne County, MI General Contractors

In the fast-paced world of construction, efficient reporting is crucial for general contractors to navigate regulatory landscapes and ensure project success. SkillSmart InSight technology emerges as a game-changer, offering a streamlined solution for general contractors working in Detroit and Wayne County MI, and seeking to demonstrate community commitment and submit Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity (CRIO) reports with ease and accuracy.

Understanding CRIO Reporting:

CRIO reporting is a mandatory requirement for many general contractors in Detroit. These reports play a vital role in maintaining transparency, tracking workforce development, and fostering community engagement. Compiling the necessary data for CRIO reporting can be a time-consuming and complex task, but SkillSmart InSight technology simplifies this process.

Key Features of SkillSmart InSight:

  1. Automated Data Collection: SkillSmart InSight automates the collection of essential workforce data, reducing the manual effort required for CRIO reporting. From tracking Detroiters to eligible STEP workers to your Workforce Contribution, the technology streamlines the data-gathering process.
  2. Real-time Analytics: With real-time analytics, general contractors can access up-to-the-minute insights into their workforce. This not only ensures the accuracy of CRIO reports but also enables proactive decision-making based on current workforce trends.
  3. Compliance Monitoring and Report Generation: SkillSmart InSight comes equipped with compliance monitoring features, helping general contractors stay on top of their CRIO reports and all necessary documentation for monthly or quarterly reporting. InSight will also generate the necessary reports for reporting directly to CRIO, as well as the fee letters needed for each subcontractor.
  4. User-Friendly Interface: The user-friendly interface of SkillSmart InSight makes it accessible for contractors of all sizes. Its intuitive design allows users to navigate through the platform seamlessly, even if they are not tech-savvy.

Benefits for Detroit General Contractors:

  1. Time and Cost Savings: By automating the data collection and report generation process, SkillSmart InSight saves general contractors in Detroit both time and resources. InSight allows you to generate subcontractor fee letters directly from the database. This efficiency translates into cost savings and allows contractors to focus on core aspects of project management.
  2. Enhanced Accuracy: The technology’s automated processes significantly reduce the chances of human error in data entry, ensuring that CRIO reports submitted by general contractors are accurate and compliant with Detroit’s regulations. Subcontractors use SkillSmart’s WH-347 generator to complete this required form quickly & accurately for CRIO. Administrators can also download these forms with a single click into a zip file to submit.
  3. Improved Community Relations: SkillSmart InSight’s emphasis on workforce development and community engagement fosters positive relations between contractors and the local community. This can have long-term benefits for project approvals and community support.

SkillSmart InSight stands as the pinnacle solution for general contractors working in Detroit, offering unparalleled efficiency in the CRIO reporting process. Our technology sets the standard by automating data collection and reporting, ensuring accuracy, and providing real-time analytics. As the construction industry evolves, SkillSmart InSight not only meets but exceeds the demands of Detroit’s regulatory landscape, making it the optimal choice for contractors seeking a cutting-edge tool to streamline reporting and data collection with confidence and ease. Choose SkillSmart InSight and elevate your construction reporting experience to new heights.

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The Future of Clean Energy Projects: Tech-Driven Tax Credit Optimization

The Treasury Department released its guidance and the proposed rules regarding prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements for the Inflation Reduction Act.  With this announcement it’s clear that investors and owners involved in clean energy projects are facing a pivotal moment.

This proposed rule shines a spotlight on the pressing need for embracing technology to successfully monitor and report prevailing wage compliance in order to maximize access to tax credits and incentives for these important projects.

Using technology to keep tabs on your project’s efforts in meeting prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements is a big deal for the folks building clean energy projects resulting in more than $270 billion in federal tax credits. Here’s why it matters:

  1. Compliance with Federal Tax Credits: The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) offers substantial tax credits to investors, owners, and developers involved in clean energy projects. However, these credits are contingent upon strict adherence to prevailing wage and government-registered apprenticeship requirements. Utilizing technology helps ensure accurate tracking and reporting of compliance with these crucial regulations.
  2. Clarity and Confidence: The initial guidance issued by the IRS on IRA’s prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements left many unanswered questions. The proposed rule aims to provide much-needed clarity and specific guidelines for developers, contractors, and subcontractors. Technology streamlines the process of tracking and reporting, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions regarding project participation.
  3. Penalties for Non-Compliance: Failure to meet prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements can result in substantial penalties and not maximizing the available tax credits for the project. These penalties become even more severe if the IRS determines that non-compliance was intentional. Utilizing technology minimizes the risk of inadvertent violations and helps in avoiding costly penalties.
  4. Project Labor Agreements (PLAs): The proposed rule highlights the potential use of project labor agreements (PLAs). Technology can assist in monitoring PLA compliance and ensuring that the use of PLAs result in successful project outcomes.
  5. Recordkeeping Efficiency: The proposed rule outlines recordkeeping requirements related to payroll records, worker pay information, Davis-Bacon wage determinations, and apprenticeship documentation. Technology facilitates efficient recordkeeping and reporting, reducing administrative burdens and ensuring that documentation is readily available when needed.
  6. Transparency and Accountability: Utilizing technology for prevailing wage tracking and reporting enhances transparency and accountability in the construction process. It enables all stakeholders to have access to real-time data, fostering trust and collaboration among project participants.
  7. Future-Proofing Clean Energy Projects: As the clean energy industry continues to grow, efficient compliance with prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements becomes essential for project viability. Technology not only ensures compliance with current regulations but also prepares projects to meet evolving requirements and standards in the renewable energy sector.

To sum it up, what the IRS is suggesting with this new rule in the Inflation Reduction Act is that folks in the clean energy game need to invest in technology. This investment will result in successful access to tax credits, while helping projects run smoother, increase transparency, and get clean energy projects ready for whatever the future throws their way in an ever-changing world.

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Clean Energy and Prevailing Wage – An Important and Unlikely New Pairing

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has brought prevailing wage and clean energy together. The IRA includes nearly $270 billion for incentives and tax credits to encourage acceleration of efforts to implement clean energy initiatives.  Yet, in order to receive these benefits, businesses must ensure that people working on their projects are being paid the prevailing wage.

Combining these concepts is intended to have positive benefits for both the economy and environment and ensure those working and living in the communities where these initiatives are being implemented will benefit. Each project is required to pay its workers a prevailing wage and employ a certain number of apprentices so that these project investments also train workers for the future.

To be eligible for the tax credits, a business must document that its workers are being paid appropriately and affirm that they have the appropriate number of apprentices The reality is most organizations haven’t done this well and are intimidated to try. This post can de-mystify this issue and help get the projects and tax credits rolling for your initiatives.

Ensure Prevailing Wage Compliance for Clean Energy Tax Credits

Prevailing wage is often used in construction projects to ensure that workers are being paid wages that are comparable to what others are being paid in the region for the same type of work. There is a usually a wage determination for your geographic area, along with corresponding job classifications, and this information can be found at the Department of Labor’s sam.gov website. By coordinating with the local government offices, you will find guidance about the apprentice to journeyman ratio for each project, as well as information on the recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Having the right tools can make this very straightforward, even if you or your clients haven’t managed prevailing wage projects before.

At SkillSmart, our InSight technology is designed to ease challenges in the data collection and project management process.  By deploying our platform for one or multiple projects, InSight can:

  • identify the wage classifications for you,
  • capture and review your payroll information each week to ensure that all of your vendors and contractors are paying subcontractors appropriately,
  • document your apprentices and workforce demographic data,
  • allow you to monitor and project manage this real-time information in your dashboard,
  • automatically generate a formatted report that demonstrates progress toward tax credit requirements.

At SkillSmart we are interested in working with partners focused on doing well while doing good.  If you or your clients are pursuing these enhanced clean energy and climate tax incentives and want help simplifying the prevailing wage requirements, please connect with us at www.skillsmart.us

Fill out the form below to download a sample report.

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Using Federal Funding and Building a Stronger Workforce

America is at the beginning of a government-supported building boom. Between 2021 and 2022, Congress invested more than $2.3 trillion across three pieces of legislation—the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act—to enable critical transportation, climate, energy, environmental, broadband, and semiconductor manufacturing infrastructure through a combination of direct spending, grants, formula funds, and tax incentives1 .

We’re still very much on the front end of this, with about 10 percent, or about $220 billion, disbursed so far according to various news reports.  One of the key themes associated with using these funds is measuring and reporting workforce outputs and outcomes in order to demonstrate the positive impact these funds are having in the communities where the funding is being invested.

On the infrastructure and construction side, we’ve already seen a move for general contractors to track this information to meet prevailing wage requirements, but we’re also seeing an increased focus on addressing liability concerns, and protecting prime contractors against wage theft claims, and tracking the payroll of all the tiers of subcontractors on a project too.  However, one of the really interesting aspects about these federal funds is the breadth of industries that can benefit. These are sectors that haven’t typically had to capture and share workforce information.  There are communities eligible for grants that can capture and report this information while strengthening their local workforce. In addition, there are energy and broadband projects that can access tax incentives while demonstrating the positive workforce affects.

Most important, even though this may be a new concept for your sector or project, capturing the data and providing customized reporting for each endeavor doesn’t have to be difficult.

 

According to the Center for American Progress (CAP), as agency funding requirements are being developed and implemented many are likely to include language that applicants will be required to meet preexisting workforce standards, if awarded funding, as well as definitions of policy goals, ideally tied to implementation steps, enforcement, and reporting.  CAP further indicates that agencies may require grantees, who are subject to certified payroll requirements, to use software that tracks demographic characteristics of workers along with hours worked and wages paid.  Project owners and grantees can increase visibility by convening project partners regularly to review data and even make the project data publicly available, if the correct technology is deployed.

You can proactively position your organization for success in these areas by implementing workforce and business tracking, software like our InSight product to easily capture, manage, and report the data on one or many projects.  Typically, for less than the cost of a full-time employee you can use an intuitive software to demonstrate your commitment to meeting these key funding objectives, while increasing your likelihood for success in obtaining funding and facilitate meeting the ongoing funding goals and requirements.

Finally, SkillSmart can help you tell the story of success on your project by developing reports to meet the needs of any project that you are undertaking.

The resources exist to build infrastructure, increase manufacturing capacity, and grow communities while positively affecting workers and communities across the country.  At SkillSmart, we can help you easily capture data, meet your goals, and tell your story.

 

Citation:

1 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Public Law 58, 117th Cong., 1st sess. (November 15, 2021), available at https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/3684/titles; Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, Public Law 169, 117th Cong., 2nd sess. (August 16, 2022), available at https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/5376; CHIPS and Science Act, Public Law 167, 117th Cong., 2nd sess. (August 9, 2022), available at https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/4346.

 

 

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Why We Have SkillSmart Day: Celebrating 10 Years

When we founded SkillSmart ten years ago, we had a vision to use technology to make communities stronger by helping workers obtain the skills they needed to be successful working for employers in their community.  We recognized that strong communities need workers who can earn a good wage and employers that can thrive because of their workforce.  Quickly, we also recognized that it’s difficult to achieve in a community without establishing measurable goals, tracking efforts toward meeting those goals, and having the data to demonstrate how workers and employers are improving.  So, we developed additional technology to increase transparency regarding measurable success.

Our organization seamlessly integrates with clients, offering solutions and ideas to advance projects across a multitude of sectors.

 

We know that in order to help our clients achieve their important goals, that the SkillSmart team has to be one with synergy, understanding of the challenges that our clients face, and to be supportive of each other as we continue to evolve during very dynamic times. Our organization is one that can easily integrate with our clients and comes to the conversation with solutions and ideas to advance the dialogue and help move the project forward. Each of our team members seeks to uphold our principles of innovation, equity, service, accountability, balance and fun.  In order to recognize the efforts of our team and SkillSmart’s commitment to each other, we set aside June 1 each year, the anniversary of our incorporation, to pause and say thank you, re-charge a bit and reflect on how we can support making others stronger.

Over the last decade, we have helped make countless communities across the country stronger.  Tens of thousands of workers in communities like Prince George’s County, MD, Milwaukee and Racine, WI, Springfield and Everett, MA, Detroit, MI, NYC have been matched to the skills training and job opportunities they needed.  We’ve also helped organizations like the Purple Line, the Detroit Pistons, Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, Portland Community College, the St. Louis City SC,  Guilford County, NC, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Nashville SC,  and Amazon HQ2 and other large-scale infrastructure projects demonstrate how the businesses and residents in their communities are benefitting from the economic investments in their communities.

More and more organizations and communities are taking steps to be more inclusive to make their communities strong and we’re excited to help them achieve this important objective, document their progress and tell each unique story.

So, this June 1 and SkillSmart Day 2023, Jason (Green) and I (Mike Knapp) want to say thank you to each of our clients that we’ve had the pleasure to serve and grow with during the past decade.  We also want to say a heartfelt thank you to our SkillSmart team who have each chosen to join us on this journey to make stronger communities – we are honored to serve with you and appreciate all that you do each day.

 

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The InSight Minute: Growing Local Economies – Metrics for Building Stronger Communities

Everywhere you look, from small towns to big cities, and even the federal government, there’s a drive to improve the economy and create more good jobs with decent pay so folks can live well and help the economy prosper. These are great platitudes, but how can it actually happen?  Well, I had two experiences this past month that provide some perspective on this.

First, we brought on a new client, a county in North Carolina, and I had an opportunity to sit down with our contact who had just started her position in December.  Her title is MWBE Program Director and she reports into the County Manager.  We were discussing why she was hired, why it was an interesting job opportunity and what the County is hoping to accomplish with her in this role.  She said, “If you look at my title, it looks like a traditional compliance role – make sure everyone is reporting things correctly.  Yet, the County recognized that with a nearly $900 million budget, they should have a huge impact on their economic growth, particularly small businesses.  However, they also recognized they don’t have the tools or data to know what impact they’re actually having. So, my job is to help our leaders and policy-makers understand our current impact on the local economy and how to make stronger.”

The second experience was my attending the P3 Conference in Dallas, TX where everything you wanted to learn about public-private partnerships (the 3 “Ps” in P3) was on display for three days.  As I participated in the sessions, it became clear that these innovative financing mechanisms are a “newer” way to get projects constructed in communities – everything from schools to roads and transit and to community centers and libraries.  But every public sector partner I heard speak discussed how each of these projects is a catalyst for economic growth in their communities, especially for small and local businesses which drive the local economy.  So, a critical element for these projects is community engagement and local participation, at every level, and it’s vital to track and manage this in order to achieve the desired community impact and growth.

At SkillSmart, we are partners in helping to achieve these outcomes. Our tools are designed to be easy for project participants to input and share information, the data is readily accessible so everyone can see the progress that is being made, or changes that are needed, and ultimately the reports can help managers, leaders policy-makers and residents can see the impact they are having to make the community and economy stronger.

Let us know if we can support you in your efforts to positively impact your community and grow the economy.

 

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The InSight Minute: How You Can Track the Impact of Your IIJA Project

The Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA) was passed at the beginning of 2022, but we are still in the early stages of this funding being available and for the various requirements to be more fully clarified.  Yet, we know that among the key elements of the IIJA and its funding is to revitalize and build new infrastructure in numerous markets to strengthen communities across the country.  Traditional projects like roads and airports top the list, but there is also funding for alternative energy and EV charging projects among many other areas.

No matter what type of project is being funded, there is a significant focus on demonstrating the impact of that project in the community where each project is happening. – By showing participation from local businesses and workers and providing good wages communities, governments and commercial partners may be afforded access to more funds or tax credits for the project.  Many traditional infrastructure projects and general contractors currently track and report on this information, but with such an array of diverse projects, there are many that don’t have the process or tools in place to do this with efficiency and success.

For the past five years SkillSmart’s InSight software has been used to provide business tracking, supplier diversity, and workforce tracking to support large manufacturing projects, transit and highway infrastructure projects, supplier diversity in higher education, commercial real estate, and municipal jurisdictions.  With superior technology that combines the ability to track numerous project goals and multiple projects in an easy-to-use platform, SkillSmart can help track the information that is needed to tell the story about how the community is growing stronger because of your project and the economic impact it is having, with the data to back it up.  It shouldn’t be difficult to tell such a positive story and SkillSmart helps make the process as easy as possible.

For more on IIJA, visit our additional blog posts:

https://www.skillsmart.us/7-things-to-know-about-iija/

https://www.skillsmart.us/the-1-2-trillion-infrastructure-bill-what-the-construction-industry-needs-to-know/

Want to get ahead of the funding and successfully set your firm up for collecting data, assessing insights, and taking actionable steps on IIJA projects? Contact the SkillSmart team to set up a demo of our software or to ask specific questions about how our software can provide a solution to the data and reporting challenges you are facing today.

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2022 Blog Recap: Exciting Revelations in Data Collection + Reporting

At SkillSmart, we know that your data is an asset that can develop trust and confidence.  Data that is easily captured on a daily basis and formally structured is vital to making business decisions while bringing transparency to each project and helping present the positive impact it is having.

As we have shared throughout 2022 in our blog posts, our technology platform offers companies, communities, and project teams a level of data accuracy and transparency while encouraging collaboration and the ability to show positive economic impact throughout all aspects of a project.

Here are the series that have been the most popular topics throughout the past year. These posts have not only educated many different sectors on how the correct collection of data can benefit all organizations working towards a common goal but the data, collected through the SkillSmart platform, has brought forth exciting revelations for companies in education, capital infrastructure, local and state governments, construction, airports, mixed-use development, healthcare and others.

 

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)

https://www.skillsmart.us/7-things-to-know-about-iija/

 

Top Questions to Ask When Researching Construction Technology

https://www.skillsmart.us/top-8-questions-to-ask-when-you-are-looking-for-certified-payroll-reporting-software/

https://www.skillsmart.us/top-8-questions-to-ask-when-you-are-researching-dei-tracking-and-labor-compliance-software/

https://www.skillsmart.us/top-9-questions-to-ask-when-you-are-a-project-manager-researching-construction-data-tracking-software/

 

Industry Focus: Wage Theft

https://www.skillsmart.us/is-wage-theft-more-prevalent-in-the-construction-industry/

https://www.skillsmart.us/wage-theft-what-to-look-for-and-what-to-do-when-you-see-something/

 

2022 Client and Project Spotlights:

https://www.skillsmart.us/amplifying-construction-dei-strategies-using-technology/

https://www.skillsmart.us/skillsmart-and-dragados-usa-ohl-usa-to-partner-on-marylands-purple-line-project/

 

In September, SkillSmart launched a monthly blog post that places a spotlight on topics that demonstrate how working together and using the right technology organizations can make people, communities, and businesses stronger. The last four months of 2022 brought these thought-provoking posts:

 

The InSight Minute

https://www.skillsmart.us/the-insight-minute-labor-day-reflections/

https://www.skillsmart.us/the-insight-minute-wage-theft/

https://www.skillsmart.us/the-insight-minute-strengthening-communities-by-making-a-bigger-pie/

https://www.skillsmart.us/the-insight-minute-data-insights-action/

 

Have a question or want to set up a demo to see how our software is working to provide data, insights, and action for companies across the country?

Find out more here: https://www.skillsmart.us/insight-demo/

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The InSight Minute: Data, Insights, Action

When we started SkillSmart 10 years ago, there were two important points we hoped to achieve. First, we had a chip on our shoulder about showing the world that a for-profit business, with strong margins, could also have social impact as part of its core strategy.  Second, we recognized that in order to thrive, communities need small businesses and skilled labor, and our solutions could help build pathways to participation and success for local and diverse businesses and workers.

We began by combining our real-world experiences with technology to design a skills-based hiring platform to increase the number of workers getting jobs and the pay they receive. This was impactful, and our technology is being applied more broadly to have an even greater impact on communities.  Through this process we recognized that what really moves the needle is letting people, organizations, and governments collect and use data from their community, and the communities in which they’re operating, and providing the tools to explore that data and make better decisions to make the community stronger based on those insights.

More simply, we believe in:

Data, Insights, Action

Organizations in most markets are looking for ways to better share the impact they’re having in communities, in part by building a strong foundation of diverse, local business partners and ensuring that local workers are earning wages that allow them to live in that community.  In the past, this has been a compliance and regulatory function – a box to be checked – but now this is a dynamic function that can be tailored to each community depending upon its unique needs.  So, technology must be adaptive, easy to use, and most importantly, responsive to the needs of the users.

Our InSight platform is being used on large and impactful projects like Virginia’s Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, Maryland’s Purple Line, and Amazon’s HQ2 expansion, and it’s also being used in local community-based projects like the mixed-used community development, Carillon in Largo, MD, the Lehigh University’s Clayton University Center, and the Illinois Medical District in Chicago. We are continuing to see more organizations in education, capital infrastructure, local and state governments, construction, airports, mixed-use development, healthcare and others that are looking for improved tools to move beyond compliance to capture their data, understand the insights in that data, and then take action.

As the end of the year approaches and we look to the promise of 2023, we are heartened to see the number of organizations our InSight and Seeker platforms are empowering to be more impactful, ensuring communities can become stronger every day. We look forward to sharing more around the success of these projects, how our solutions address challenges in different sectors, and the positive economic impact communities are seeing by focusing on the important work being done and the individuals performing that work each day.

Our Best for a Wonderful Holiday Season and a Blessed and Prosperous New Year!

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