UPDATE: Researchers Discover Environmental Consulting Firms Decline

MINNEAPOLIS - In the past, Environmental Information Ltd. (EI), Minneapolis, could not keep up with the exploding number of environmental consulting firms. Today, the research organization is tracking an un-precedented decline in this area.

Between EI's 1994 and 1996 surveys of the sector, 38 percent of the environmental consulting firms in the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environ-mental Protection Agency's (EPA) Region 10 closed.

Similarly, high closure rates were found among Region 9 firms last fall. And, while it would be expected that there would be a significant failure rate among new start-ups, EI data indicates that the majority of small firms that closed had been in business for more than seven years.

More than 38 percent of the firms with less than 10 employees that were included in EI's survey pool in 1994 were no longer in business in 1996. Nearly 22 percent of the firms with 11 to 25 employees also are believed to have closed.

In addition, 69 percent of the consultants that closed had been in business for more than seven years, and 31 percent had been in business for more than 15 years, not including firms that merged with or were purchased by another firm.

"We believe that our survey populations are large enough to reflect general trends among the environmental consulting sector in both EPA regions 9 and 10," says Cary Perket, EI's president. "Based on our experience over the last 12 years, we do not believe that there was any other period with as many closures as those we are finding between 1994 and 1996."

EI estimates that there are approximately 500 consulting firms in the four-state region consisting of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. A total of 317 of the region's consulting firms participated in the latest survey.