By: Joe McAndrew & Arielle Thomas
On Wednesday, July 13th, the Partnership hosted our colleagues from the Metropolitan Civic Leadership Alliance for a daylong convening to share best practices, engage federal leaders, and celebrate the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (also known as the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act or IIJA). The Alliance is a group of business-led civic organizations comprised of the leading CEOs and senior executives of major employers, professional firms, universities, and other senior civic leaders in eleven of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. The Partnership is a founding member of the Alliance, which formed in early 2020 to bring a stronger, more unified regional business voice to the federal infrastructure debate that was pivotal in the passage of the historic bipartisan IIJA.
The Alliance’s regions represent 20 percent of the country’s population and 30 percent of our national GDP and the group organizes around the premise that for each of our regions to be successful and more productive, we need a strong federal infrastructure partner working collaboratively to tackle our pressing challenges in bold, new ways.
At last week’s gathering, we were joined by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, Columbus Partnership, Greater Houston Partnership, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, Metro Atlanta Chamber, Partnership for Rhode Island, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Also in attendance were business and public sector infrastructure leaders from each of the regions, infrastructure leaders from the Biden Administration, key congressional staff, Amtrak, Transportation Trades Department, and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
We know that IIJA presents a truly historic opportunity. However, it has been only eight months since the bill was signed into law and much of the first year’s funding allocations are yet to be fully awarded. As expected, we learned that IIJA is being implemented through different approaches in each region. We also explored the various approaches each region is using to establish a central convener and a “quarterback” for implementation , with best practices appearing from CompeteRI, Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Bay Area Transportation Projects, and the Local Infrastructure Hub.
In conversations with federal partners, discussion centered around the role for the private and civic sectors to support successful implementation of the historic investments expected in our roads, transit, rail, broadband, and clean energy transportation solutions in the next five years. The U.S. Department of Commerce made an exciting announcement that the entire nation – all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories – has agreed to join the Internet for All Initiative that is enabled by IIJA, with the aim that all Americans will have access to quality, high speed internet
To close out our dynamic day and celebrate the passage of IIJA, the Alliance headed to a reception featuring special guests U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island), and Representative Elaine Luria (Virginia).
Looking ahead, the Alliance plans to redouble its efforts to be an organized voice for aligned regional infrastructure needs. By coordinating efforts and working together, we can be far more effective securing key wins at the federal level
A special thanks to EY and WSP for sponsoring the Alliance’s convening.