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BOSTON-The issues facing many colleges and universities parallel those in the financial market, as much of the money for these private institutions comes in the forms of tuition, loans and investment. With less money to go around, colleges are seeing the need to cut costs and much of that can be curtailed by reducing renovation or rebuilding costs or postponing newer projects for a few years. Speaking to that, Newton, MA-based Commodore Builders is taking on 11 projects at nine different campuses, many of them renovations.

“Although there are some new projects out of the ground that are finishing up, most of the schools that we’re working with, they don’t have plans right now on the books for new projects,” Tom Comeau, COO of Commodore, tells GlobeSt.com. “Whereas they might have been [previously] thinking about a new building, [the schools] think, ‘let’s renovate this space instead’.” The projects range roughly from a half-million dollar to $3 million.

With campus work, different concerns fall into the fold and it changes the way the schools bring in contractors. “Probably half to three-quarters of these were projects where we were selected through some interview process to work with the schools,” Comeau explains, “or that we just have a relationship with [the schools] and they called us up to do the work.” The rest, he explains, were through a standard bidding process.

A primary concern for these schools is still the student body. “The economy today has [the schools] focusing on certain things; focus on the budgets, controlling costs, minimizing risk,” says Comeau. “They’re looking at the areas where we really developed the expertise on is minimizing that risk for them. Because a lot of these summer jobs…when the students are coming back” the jobs have to be done. And keeping the work going in this competitive marketplace comes a fair amount through recommendations, he explains, and minor renovation work keeps up through the school year, just to on a smaller scale.

The marketplace has added another wrinkle to the researching process, as well, Comeau tells GlobeSt.com. “From a risk perspective, they want to make sure the companies that they’re working with are financially strong and sound companies, because.”

The competitiveness is only going to get more intense over the coming months, as occupancy drops, it causes new construction to dry up. Comeau points out that even after the occupancy begins to rise again, it will take at least another year for new construction work to crop up again. However, “the long-term,” he says. “If schools start planning projects to come out of the ground, right now, by the time you get through the planning stage and the design stage and get to construction, you’re looking at a year-plus out before you start those projects.”

Officially, the projects Commodore is working on are:

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