Moreover, AECOM strives to remain engaged with politicians and keep apprised of local project initiatives across the region, says Blanchard, who oversees this type of effort for AECOM in the Southeast.

Most firms understand there's a political angle to business. "You have to understand how [politics] functions, because that's really how the money flows," Blanchard says. "We're making sure that we're tied into that network, not just on the technical side but the political side."

One example of this is Georgia's push to pass a statewide 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) will go before Georgia voters this summer through a series of local elections. The tax will be implemented in regions where it passes.

Should it pass, such a measure would provide a huge boost for the transportation sector firms across the region, including AECOM.

Blanchard admits that Tea Party officials in the state are pushing back hard against the effort. But if TSPLOST passes, it could have an impact on the national political dialogue on transportation investment.

"If they are successful, I think you'll see other municipalities and governments looking [at this option]," he says. He estimates that 200,000 jobs would be generated by the tax.

Southeast Prospects

AECOM's leaders say they are poised to remain a dominant presence in the Southeast for years to come.

"We've got a lot of things that we're pushing," says Hullfish, who is planning on regional growth.

The firm has no current acquisition targets in the Southeast, he adds, but admits that nationally AECOM remains interested in mergers and acquisitions.

"I think [the Southeast] is going to come back, and it's going to be stronger than the Northeast or the Midwest," predicts Hullfish. "I think there's going to be a fairly strong recovery in the Southeast."

And that's something that even AECOM's competitors can cheer.

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