The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a historic achievement, providing a generational opportunity to transform America’s transportation, energy, water, and broadband infrastructure. Maximizing the impact of these federal dollars will require breaking down barriers across all levels of government and enabling new and expanded approaches to public-private partnerships.
BPC recently convened experts to discuss implementation of the IIJA in the first event in a new series co-sponsored by the National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities: “Overcoming Challenges and Seizing Opportunities: Implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.” White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu provided opening remarks, followed by a discussion between Samantha Silverberg, White House Deputy Infrastructure Implementation Coordination, Matt Chase, NACo’s CEO and Executive Director, and Clarence Anthony, NLC’s CEO and Executive Director.
Here are a few of the main themes the speakers touched on.
Coordination is key
It's really important that on the state level, that all of the communities get together and think about what are the roads? What are the bridges? Where is the broadband going to be laid? Where are we going to lay the electrical vehicle charging stations? Not waiting on the federal government. And then they have to work with their mayors and their counties and the communities and their tribal leaders to get on the same page, to the extent that they can.
We want to see that same kind of integration also at the local level. And so obviously, different communities have different levels of resources…How you think holistically about how, for example, your roads, your water pipes and your broadband might all get built at the same time. How you think about the energy needs for your electric vehicle charging and how that plans into your fleet procurements for the rest of your agencies. If we're going to be as transformative as we want to be in these investments, we really have to think holistically.
We also recognize that the private sector is going to be essential in this collaboration, whether it's dealing with the supply chain, helping us with the workforce development needs, and maybe even putting additional financing into the mix.
State and local governments will drive implementation
A lot of the infrastructure is actually owned at the state local and tribal level with the federal government being an essential partner for setting the policy framework.
90% of the resources in this bipartisan infrastructure law will be delivered by non-federal partners. So that's states, cities, counties, towns, nonprofits, universities, private entities, port authorities, transit authorities, and others.
The federal government is working to support local efforts to leverage IIJA dollars
My team has produced a book that you guys can find at build.gov that outlines every program that's actually in this $1.2 trillion bill. Now I call this horizontal and vertical integration. So, we're going to spend our time in Washington, DC pulling all the cabinet secretaries together, staying focused, making ourselves available to NACo, making ourselves available to NLC, making ourselves available to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, really trying to help people figure out how up in Washington DC, we're going to coordinate our activity so that we can move it down to the ground.
The most common request that we get is for technical assistance support really along the entire lifecycle of infrastructure. So yes, absolutely in the front end, in terms of applying for funding and being able to access grants. But all the way through planning, design, construction, operations, really giving our communities the resources they need to deliver excellent infrastructure projects that meet their community needs. And so, this is something we're thinking a lot about. We've had a lot of conversations with the philanthropic community as well, to try to identify foundation dollars and other resources that might be available either at the community level or at the national level.
Implementation will require a lot of new jobs and workers
There's a really wide variety of jobs that [we] are going to need…to deliver the infrastructure bill. We talk a lot about the types of building trades and hand on work. Plumbers and pipefitters, communications workers, electricians, obviously laborers and other construction workers. But it really goes all the way into engineers, project managers, budgeteers…And so, I would really think about all the [workforce] programs that you have in your community, from community colleges all the way into the K-12 pipeline. Because again, this is going to be a great national project that's going to take us many years to see to completion.
Support Research Like This
With your support, BPC can continue to fund important research like this by combining the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans.Donate Now