Artist rendering of proposed Commonwealth Associates Headquarters Building at Glick and Blackstone, looking southeast
Commonwealth Associates, Inc. has signed an Option Agreement with the City of Jackson to consider a parcel on the corner of Louis Glick Highway and Blackstone Street in Jackson for development of a new national headquarters for the engineering firm.
Commonwealth employs nearly three hundred professionals in the STEM field, who provide consulting, design, and support services to the electric power industry, industrial clients, government, and high-profile academic, research, and health care institutions across the United States and in Canada. Robust investment in infrastructure combined with “Engineer of Choice” awards by several large national utilities have resulted in hiring growth that has exhausted existing office space.
“Commonwealth’s roots in Jackson date back to an innovative street lighting company started by the famed local Foote brothers in the 1880s,” said Commonwealth President, Dennis DeCosta, “so it is only fitting that we should continue both their innovative work and our commitment to this community as we expand to meet our workforce growth. With the outstanding on-going work of the City, the Anchor Initiative, and the Enterprise Group to revitalize Downtown Jackson, the time is right.”
“Commonwealth Associates’ decision to build new headquarters in the core of downtown Jackson will help the Anchor Initiative’s efforts to build density and vibrancy in our urban core. We are excited and proud of their commitment to this community and their employees,” says Mindy Bradish-Orta, Anchor Initiative President.
Jackson City Manager Patrick Burtch commented: “The prospect of a corporation like Commonwealth moving into Jackson and bringing with it some 150 highly qualified professionals into the City’s urban core in its first phase is more than welcome news. Infrastructure and business development growth in Jackson’s downtown begets more growth for the community as a whole, and we at the City couldn’t be happier to help a project such as this come to pass. The City has worked diligently with administrators and stakeholders at Commonwealth, as well as the Anchor Initiative, and we’re pleased the project looks to be mutually beneficial for all of us.”
At last night’s Jackson city council meeting, Mayor Bill Jors said, “I think this is the biggest news to hit downtown Jackson in my lifetime. Very well paid jobs, a lot of them, and plans for two more phases after this. It is a great day for Jackson.”
Two additional phases of the Commonwealth Associates headquarters building are contemplated as “wings” to be added as the company grows. Parking for the building will be located across Glick Highway, an overhead bridge walkway connecting the building to the lot is also planned.
Regarding construction of downtown apartments underway, Jors said, “Commonwealth recognized the fact in order to attract younger millennials, they want downtown urban living. The apartments are going to continue…they’re going to need to…the Hayes as well. We will have a completely different downtown in 36 months.”
The Mayor praised Commonwealth Associates for their commitment to downtown Jackson. “There are not a lot of companies in Jackson that pre-date Consumers. They recognize they started here and this is their hometown just like a lot of companies got their start here and they’re returning home” said Jors. “Hopefully we can bring some more companies back in the city and demonstrate that yes, we are pro business and we want to raise the level, the standard of living in Jackson while keeping the cost low. That’s our advantage besides our location.”
City Manager Patrick Burtch has been a proponent of readying space for future development and led the effort to turn the former Consumers Energy parking lots into attractive green space.
Burtch engaged architectural firm Beckett & Raeder, Inc. to create conceptual
drawings of what buildings might look like in the space. Commonwealth leadership credited those drawings with adding enthusiasm towards the move downtown. With the Lofts on Louis, the new parking lot, another planned office building and the Commonwealth Associates headquarters, the entire block (bordered by Pearl, Jackson, Glick and Blackstone) is now committed for development.
Commonwealth Associates was structured in 1988 after engineering employees of Gilbert Commonwealth learned the Jackson office was closing. Gilbert Commonwealth began in 1888 with the incorporation of the pioneering Jackson Electric Light Works by W.A. and J.B. Foote.
At that time, Gilbert Commonwealth had been acquired by another entity. The acquirer simply didn’t think Jackson was economically viable any longer. The group believed otherwise and immediately took action to structure a new company to maintain a name well-respected in the electrical power industry.
Many individuals who had previously worked with the founders of the company were brought in to lend their expertise. In 1992, Commonwealth opened a regional office in the state of Washington to serve clients in the northwestern United States. In addition to smaller satellite offices, an office was opened in Kennesaw, Georgia, in 2008 to serve their clients in the Southeast more effectively.
In 2015, Commonwealth Associates expanded into Downtown Jackson with a suite of offices in the Commonwealth Commerce Center, the original home of Gilbert Commonwealth.