Firm to Offer Integrated Local Government Services
MRB Group President Ryan Colvin recently announced that Heather Simmons Jones has joined MRB Group to support its launch of much needed local government services in South Carolina.
With headquarters in Rochester, NY, MRB Group is a municipal support firm providing engineering, architecture, planning, and economic development services that strengthen local governments. Its expansion into South Carolina adds a third state to the firm’s geography, with the goal of serving communities that need to achieve more with limited resources. According to Colvin, it was the availability of Jones, combined with a strong need for the firm’s “wrap around” municipal services, that prompted MRB Group’s investment in the greater Charleston area.
“Heather is a well-known and respected economic developer and local government expert,” said Colvin. “She has decades of practical experience in local government – and a personal track record for getting things accomplished. Both are a hallmark of MRB Group’s approach,” he continued.
“Opportunities to build a stellar team are rare,” Colvin continued. “We are extremely fortunate that Heather chose us, and that she will help us further expand our team to serve local government leaders and their communities in the Palmetto State,” he stated.
With roots that date back to 1927, MRB Group is one of the oldest engineering and architecture firms in the northeast. In addition to providing traditional civil engineering and architecture, MRB Group developed its SmarterLocalGov team in 2011, adding a wide array of critical services that directly support what Colvin calls “next-generation engineering and architecture.”
“Our design philosophy is both information-based, and long-term focused,” Colvin stated, adding that his multi-disciplined teams apply cutting edge technology, data analysis, and strategic planning to design services that help communities preserve and maintain infrastructure with greater efficiency. He believes the firm’s approach also improves and better supports community preparedness for economic development.
Jones says she chose MRB Group because of its innovative and holistic approach to solving problems.
“MRB Group is unlike any other engineering and architecture firm I’ve ever worked with,” said Jones. “Their team’s solutions are aimed well beyond short-term municipal projects. They help communities plan for their own sustainability and success. They ask all the right questions. They care about operations, municipal budgets and efficiency, and long-term goals. MRB Group’s approach is to design by design,” she stated.
Jones says that her background and experience led her to MRB Group, driven by a deeper understanding of the key relationship between economic development and infrastructure. According to Jones, when local governments struggle to maintain what they have, there is little ability to support future needs. She believes regional growth requires the strength of sustainable local governments.
“South Carolina’s ability to develop and prosper requires several tiers of planning, implementation and success. At the foundation of it all is infrastructure. Local governments need the right support,” Simmons Jones continued.
“MRB Group gets it,” she stated. “I want to be part of a team that is making a critical difference. I think SmarterLocalGov is going to transform the way communities prepare for the future – one that fosters economic development.” Jones said.
“If my work with MRB Group can help strengthen our local governments, then I am confident South Carolina will thrive,” she concluded.
Jones has reason to believe in that vision. She joins MRB Group after over twenty years of economic development and local government experience as a chief executive officer, director, and local government administrator. She has served in public, private, and non-profit leadership roles.
Her work securing investment includes an extremely successful, seven-year collaborative effort to recruit a $600 Million manufacturing firm, bringing hundreds of jobs to the Greenwood area. Jones, while serving as CEO of the Greenwood Partnership Alliance, helped convince the leadership of a Japan-based global manufacturing firm to invest in South Carolina. The chemical company manufactures carbon fiber, and supplies the material to the aeronautics and automotive industries. Once the investment was secured, Jones then continued to play a pivotal role in coordination of funding sources, matching resources and uses, and working with the state to secure a grant from the Economic Development Administration for critical infrastructure. Jones also aided the company in creating a community engagement initiative to provide timely updates to local schools, residents, and government leaders.
Jones has completed some 30 major projects in the last six years, totaling more than $1B in capital investment in Greenwood County. However, she says it was her additional role as a Project Manager for installation of the manufacturing facility, which included coordination of utility improvements, placement of power lines and Installation of traffic controls, that gave her a deeper respect for the professionals who design and coordinate critical infrastructure. She says that experience continues to motivate her to fight for community infrastructure improvements, “before their unanswered need deters investment.”
A native of South Carolina, Jones grew up in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Clemson University, and is a certified economic developer in South Carolina. She has focused on matching private investment to a community’s vision and growth objectives, and currently serves as a Governor’s appointee to the South Carolina Research Authority.
In addition to her academic and career pursuits, Jones’ economic development leadership in South Carolina includes serving as a former President of the South Carolina Economic Developers’ Association.
“We are excited to support communities in South Carolina, and Heather is the right person to help us build stronger local governments – and foster economic development throughout the region,” said Colvin.
An engineering and architecture firm that specializes in municipal services, MRB Group has supported communities throughout the United States since 1927. The firm’s team of nearly 125 engineers, architects, planners, and technical staff currently works with more than 150 local governments, supporting operations and assisting with long term strategic plans, planning and zoning board support, and economic development services. MRB Group assists with a variety of public works functions, provides architecture for rehabilitation of public facilities, and works closely with municipal leaders and staff to preserve and maintain critical community infrastructure, like water and wastewater systems.