A New Partnership for Infrastructure


Infrastructure featured prominently in the 2013 State of the Union address. This week, the President rolled out some more information on his various initiatives to rebuild America’s infrastructure. This plan is wholly consistent with the infrastructure component of our Next Economy Partnership Project. As you know, we believe investing in innovation infrastructure is a key step in creating new jobs.

The President’s $50 billion proposal – known collectively as Fix It First - consists of a handful of important measures. $40 billion is dedicated to upgrading bridges, roads, and transit infrastructure. Also included in this effort is a measure to expedite the review processes often associated with infrastructure upgrades – an important and often overlooked impediment to getting work done quickly. Repairing and replacing our aging infrastructure is low hanging fruit when it comes to accelerating economic development. Not only are jobs created in construction, but updating and modernizing the ecosystem for entrepreneurs is critical for startup growth to occur.

From our perspective, the most compelling element of the President’s proposal is the Rebuild America Partnership. This Partnership is a combination of policy concepts that unite under the banner of expanding the role of localities and enhancing the role of private capital in infrastructure investment. 

On the financing side, the Rebuild America Partnership would aid in the implementation of the newly expanded Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, commonly referred to by the acronym TIFIA. This program is designed to better leverage federal infrastructure dollars by attracting private sector funding as part of a project. In an era of constrained budgets, programs like TIFIA provide a path forward regarding financing major infrastructure projects.

Also in the financing realm, the Rebuild America Partnership calls for the creation of a national infrastructure bank. If Congress can make this happen, the bank could help localities finance a wide range of infrastructure upgrades, including transportation, water systems and modernizing our aging energy infrastructure. 

However, the most important concept of the Rebuild America Partnership is the concept of partnership itself. This model recognizes and embraces the importance of localities in making critical infrastructure decisions. By embracing a partnership model as opposed to a top-down, DC centric model, states and cities are empowered and innovation can thrive.

(You can read more details about the President's plan here.)