The 5 Key Practices to Working with Municipalities and Institutions

Southeast Michigan is home to an amazing range of cities, townships and public institutions. We’ve partnered with many of these municipalities and institutions to create safer streets, greener buildings and much more.

Along the way we’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to make these projects successful. 


The 5 Keys to a Successful Municipal or Institutional Project:

1. Understand the Connections

When working on institutional projects, always keep in mind that institutions are connected to their municipal location.  This means it’s important to foster strong relationships with both the institution and the municipality, even if the project is specifically for the institution. Some, like hospitals, might even require site planning approvals through the municipality.

2. Know The Leaders

In addition to understanding the connections, it’s important to recognize that any institution will have multiple leaders.  Know who the project manager is and make sure they are aware of all project correspondence that is required.  Communicate regularly and work collaboratively with the stakeholders so everyone is on the same page.

3. Do Your Research

All municipalities are unique. Some are growth-friendly, while others are not.  Understanding these differences and doing the research ahead of time will make it easier to build a project in the long run. When reviewing site plans for municipalities, it is important to review the plans based on the current standards and ordinances, along with an eye for engineering reasonableness.  Also make sure that our review letters to the Planning Commissions or Councils contain information on how the plans conform to their current standards and provide items of discussion. Since we are not the approval agent, all of this information is key to providing the municipality a complete understanding of the project.

4. Build From Your Budget

Construction budgets are sometimes set at the very beginning, planning stages of the project.  We treat the budget as a cornerstone of every project and keep it in mind through every step of the design process.  This ensures that public dollars are spent in the most efficient way possible.

5. Sweat the Details!

Details can make or break a successful project. For example, always remember that permits are required for Municipal work too – even if they are from the same entity.

Susan C. Dickinson, P.E., CFM, LEED AP is a project manager at Midwestern Consulting, with a focus on roadways, utilities and stormwater management projects. She works with municipal, institutional and private developers. She recently celebrated 25 years at Midwestern.