President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to revive the economy through a job-creating public works plan on a scale unseen since the building program of the interstate highway system in the 1950s. His ideas were outlined in the weekly radio address the day after the government reported that employers cut 533,000 jobs in November - the most in more than three decades. Obama did not reveal an estimated cost for the plan, but focused on what he calls investments and an early down payment on long term reforms. “We won’t just throw money at the problem,” Obama said. “We’ll measure progress by the reforms we make and the results we achieve — by the jobs we create, by the energy we save, by whether America is more competitive in the world.”
Obama’s plan includes the launch of a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient, the creation of millions of jobs and the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings in U.S. history. According to Obama, the time to act is now. “We need to act with the urgency this moment demands to save or create at least two and a half million jobs so that the nearly two million Americans who’ve lost them know that they have a future,” he said. His plans are part of a massive economy recovery plan Obama wants Congress to pass and have waiting on his desk when he takes office in January.
Focus on Infrastructure
Obama said this weekend his economic recovery plan would employ millions of people by “making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s.” He also said state officials would miss the boat if they did not move quickly to repair highways and bridges. “We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it.”
In addition to creating as many as two million new jobs rebuilding and repairing the nation’s bridges and tunnels, Obama also supports the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank. The Bank would be an independent organization that would decide what projects to pursue, and fund it with as much as $60 billion of federal money over 10 years.
Senators Chris Dodd and Chuck Hagel, introduced The National Infrastructure Bank Act, the legislation that would establish the National Infrastructure Bank, back in August 2007. The bill would effectively create a public-private partnership agency tasked with expanding the role of the federal government in creating massive public works projects. The bank would encourage local public agencies to “partner” with private for-profit entities to develop projects worth at least $75 million each. The intent is to leverage the investment through bonds and private sector participation.
According to Time, it is likely that Obama would end up spending more than he is right now projecting. As a result, the report argues that infrastructure plays are the best way to invest in an Obama presidency. Moreover, executive search firm, A.E. Feldman, contends that Barack Obama’s Presidency promises to create huge job opportunities in project and infrastructure finance.
State transportation officials say more than 5,000 highway projects are ready to go today, if Congress will pony up $64.3 billion as part of an economic aid plan, according to the AP. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which compiled the list, said the projects would provide jobs and help reduce a backlog of crumbling roads and bridges. The AP also reports that a bipartisan group of governors recently met with Obama to press for some $136 billion in infrastructure projects in addition to money for health care costs.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have all echoed Obama’s call for investment in U.S. infrastructure as a way to create jobs, stimulate the economy and remain competitive on a global scale. Following a meeting with Obama and most of his fellow governors last week, Schwarzenegger’s website announced that updating badly outdated U.S. infrastructure would be a big win for America. “We would get the trains, bridges, roads, levees, tunnels, schools and energy efficiencies we need to sustain our prosperity, Schwarzenegger said. “And we would also put hundreds of thousands of people to work right now when they desperately need jobs and our economy needs a boost.”
Moreover, mayors across the country are also calling on Obama to invest in their cities. According to CNN, a group of mayors met in Washington on Monday to lobby for federal funding for what they say are “ready-to-go” infrastructure projects. The report states the city officials want funding to go directly to their cities instead of being distributed on a state level.
The Mayoral lobby coincided with the Conference of Mayors’ release of a list of 11,391 “ready-to-go” infrastructure projects that would cost $73.1 billion. The report surveyed more than 400 cities across the country and includes roads, bridges, schools, city halls and other public works projects. The report says that those projects would create 847,641 jobs.
CNN quotes New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, as saying, “All of these projects and more involving our bridges and schools are ready to go. They’ve gone through the design and approval process. They’ve gone through all of the political requirements. They just need money.”
Obama plans to announce more details of the economic recovery plan in the coming weeks. On his website, he concluded in a statement, this painful crisis “provides us with an opportunity to transform our economy to improve the lives of ordinary people by rebuilding roads and modernizing schools for our children, investing in clean energy solutions to break our dependence on imported oil, and making an early down payment on the long-term reforms that will grow and strengthen our economy for all Americans for years to come.”
Right now, investors and politicians alike see investment in infrastructure as an urgent necessity and privatization as a viable alternative. Amid the trend, A.E. Feldman says infrastructure finance jobs are opening up for candidates with backgrounds in investment banking as well as experience in analyzing and executing structured financings. A.E. Feldman’s CEO, Carol Schwam, says the most sought after candidates are those with experience in infrastructure transactions and civic engineering. Additionally, legal jobs are opening up for attorneys with expertise in global project development and complex financial transactions.
Are you working in Project & Infrastructure Finance? If you want to grow your career or your company’s bottom line, contact A.E. Feldman’s President, Mitch Feldman, now. Find out more about infrastructure jobs and public private partnerships today!