America Elects to Rebuild Again
Can President Trump reunite a divided America with... infrastructure? One clear mandate for the Trump administration is beginning “the urgent task of rebuilding our nation.”
It’s a new day in America and nothing seems clear except perhaps uncertainty. Pols and world markets alike roiled overnight in shock and confusion–but there is one word that stands out perfectly clear on the horizon, even in the fog following an incredibly hard fought election: infrastructure.
It’s one thing we’ve all been waiting for and that both candidates agreed on. There is bipartisan agreement going back centuries, and conversations boiling up on both sides of the political spectrum in recent years. The great need for new public works practically everywhere across the entire nation has become obvious to all.
Just the triage necessary to fix degraded, failing and sometimes dangerous infrastructure will require a large scale response. The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that U.S. infrastructure needed $3.6 trillion of new investment by 2020–but so far it has received only a fraction of that amount. Most of the Obama stimulus was tax cuts, rather than infrastructure spending. The federal government only spent $96 billion on infrastructure in 2014, while cities and states carried the load with another $320 billion of their own investments–a 30 year low for local investment in schools, wastewater treatment plants, highways, bridges and everything else.
Last December, Congress finally passed a five-year, $305 billion highway and transportation bill–but the U.S. is still well off the pace of needed investment.
The pent-up demand for infrastructure upgrades is piled very high in the form of long lines, delays, congestion and a general inefficiency that eats away at our productivity, the economy and the happiness of our daily lives. But more than lost opportunity and inconvenience, bad infrastructure can be deadly whether its automobile accidents, collapsing bridges, failing levies or contaminated drinking water.
President-elect Trump said early this morning:
“...we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding our nation and renewing the American dream. I've spent my entire life in business, looking at the untapped potential in projects and in people all over the world.
We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We're going to rebuild our infrastructure...and we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”
There is untapped potential in brownfield and greyfield properties across the land. The time is ripe to rebuild everywhere. Interest rates are historically low and development demand is high. The economic momentum has already been building. Major structural adjustments have pivoted America’s way–shifting some old weaknesses to new sources of strength. Political momentum has been building too, even in this partisan atmosphere. Multiple bi-partisan brownfield bills in Congress proposed in the last year increase funding to an economic development program everyone knows works (by leveraging $18 of private capital for every $1 of public investment).
In October, Trump announced a 1 Trillion dollar infrastructure plan. Relying heavily on private funding, Trump's infrastructure proposal dwarfed an infrastructure plan proposed by Secretary Clinton by nearly 4X. Another plan would repatriate corporate profits trapped overseas and fund a national infrastructure bank. With lots of workable policy ideas to choose from, the real estate developer turned President seemingly has the cards to deal on infrastructure.
There’s thousands of great plans and even more good planning ideas collecting dust on shelves and taking up space in hard drives. It’s time to dust off those old ideas and get them working again. And it's time for new, better ideas. There’s a giant to-do list and a super-sized Trump stimulus plan will seemingly take aim at this huge problem, but the public and private sector professionals who dig into the details and implement vision into reality will be the ones to seize this opportunity to put the best ideas forward. Residents, stakeholders and advocates must participate and raise their voices, so they can be heard and every important issue identified. We have the opportunity to collaborate and start working to deliver higher and better outcomes for everyone.
Together, we will continue the work to build our best planet–one good project at a time.
If you have a plan, market study, property report, Phase I or II ESA report, or you need a good idea to unlock the potential of your property or real estate project, post it for free on BrownfieldListings.com. Add a formal or informal RFP, RFQ or RFI to our project directory. Learn how seeding the market with good ideas can attract investment or discover what Brownfield Listings can do for your property or project. Or sign up for free now.