While crumbling infrastructure is not limited to rural areas, such areas face unique challenges in addressing infrastructure needs. Many projects are relatively small and therefore unable to attract regional support or investment from the private sector.
The usual means of paying for infrastructure—either taxes or user fees—are severely limited in many rural areas due to small and, in some cases, declining populations. It can be a struggle to recruit and retain staff with the necessary expertise, presenting a fundamental challenge to rural communities’ efforts to utilize their infrastructure efficiently and effectively. While robust public funding is essential to meeting these urgent needs, rural areas, like their urban counterparts, should be empowered to tap into the financial and technical expertise of the private sector to help deliver infrastructure projects more quickly and at less cost. This paper will highlight examples of rural areas that have successfully overcome issues of size, resources, and experience to create successful partnerships with the private sector. It will also make a suite of recommendations to enable more rural communities to utilize private capital to help address infrastructure needs.