Trump Visit Highlights Importance of Infrastructure

By Ed Green
P3 Kentucky Editor

President Trump visited Cincinnati Wednesday to discuss rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. He thanked Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and other regional leaders for attending the event on the banks of the Ohio River, just across from Covington.

It was clear from the President’s remarks that private industry will play a significant role in implementing and investing in the $1 trillion infrastructure plan his administration has promoted. Trump said the plan will create “safe, modern, reliable infrastructure” to support jobs and that federal officials will work with state and local leaders and businesses to move his plan forward.

“American lives and livelihoods” rely on infrastructure such as the 12,000 miles of inland waterways that bring coal, grain and steel to the heart of America.”America must have the best, fastest, reliable infrastructure of any country in the world,” Trump said.

“We will work directly with state and local governments to give them the flexibility they need to revitalize our nation’s infrastructure,” Trump said. “At least $200 billion of the $1 trillion plan will come from direct federal investment. Working with states, local government and private industry, we will insure that these new federal funds are matched by significant additional dollars for maximum efficiency and accountability.”

According to information from the White House, key elements of the federal spending plan are as follows:

  • Transformative projects to bring the country’s infrastructure into the 21st century will be funded through a mixture of loans and grants, such as air traffic control privatization.
  • Rural America will receive grants to rebuild crippled bridges, roads, and waterways.
  • States and cities will receive grants to meet their own infrastructure challenges.
  • Qualified projects of regional and national significance, such as those created under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, will receive loans.
  • Government will get out of the way to allow State and local governments to succeed at meeting their unique challenges.
  • Only 20 percent of the infrastructure spending will come from the Federal Government. The remaining funding is expected to be made by states, local governments and the private sector.

President Trump said the plan would help states and local governments prioritize their most pressing infrastructure needs for projects that support jobs and industry.

Kentucky symbolizes nation’s needs

There’s no better place than Kentucky to see how important public infrastructure is to creating jobs. Historically, Kentucky has developed economic development strategies around its location and leveraging the state’s roads, rivers and runways, not to mention low-cost electricity, to attract and retain businesses.

Just last week, Business Facilities magazine recognized Kentucky as a Logistics Leader, noting the state’s “position as a top center of distribution-delivery logistics for North America” for worldwide firms like UPS Inc. and Amazon Inc.  And earlier this week, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s office announced that the state was recognized by Area Development magazine with a Golden Shovel Award for its economic development efforts.

“Nineteen interstates and highways, major rail networks, barge traffic on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, five commercial airports and dozens of regional airports all serve Kentucky businesses,” the governor’s office wrote. “As well, electricity costs for industrial use are nearly 20 percent lower than the national average.”

Nevertheless, Kentucky has numerous infrastructure needs to support growth. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s recent A Citizen’s Guide to Kentucky Infrastructure report noted major investments that will be required to sustain and grow infrastructure statewide. The report highlighted significant needs for improvement in the areas of broadband, roads and bridges, water and wastewater, as well as public transportation infrastructure.

“Kentucky must realize our global competitors are building infrastructure at an impressive rate,” said Kentucky Chamber President Dave Adkisson. “To take full advantage of the state’s favorable geographic location and improve the ability of Kentucky companies to compete, we must place a greater emphasis on our state’s infrastructure. Our focus must be a comprehensive approach including energy, water, sewer, broadband and transportation systems. The Chamber urges the state to utilize P3s and other innovative solutions in order to move Kentucky forward.”

It’s clear from President Trump’s remarks that the decisions to rebuild and improve public infrastructure must come from local and state leaders — not Washington. In the end, public-private partnerships and innovative financing and project delivery will play a central role in rebuilding, replacing or creating the public assets required to support jobs and community growth.

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