President Barack Obama is expected to use his visit to Wilmington Thursday to announce the launch of a new center to help localities match with investors.
President Barack Obama will be announcing the Build America Investment Initiative while in Wilmington Thursday afternoon.
In an official statement, the White House said the I-495 bridge he will be standing in front of when he makes this announcement is a “key example of the importance of infrastructure, which keeps the economy moving, spurs innovation, and bolsters our national competitiveness.”
The White House said the initiative will a government-wide initiative to increase investment. As part of the initiative, officials said the President’s administration will be creating the Build America Transportation Investment Center, which will be housed within the Department of Transportation. Officials described the center as a one-stop shop for “cities and states seeking to use innovative financing and partnerships with the private sector to support transportation infrastructure.”
Officials also noted the President’s use of “his pen and his phone” to invest in modernizing the nation’s infrastructure.
On top of this announcement, the White House said there will also be a Build American Interagency Working Group and an Infrastructure Investment Summit. The working group will be co-chaired by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and tasked with working with multiple parties in the public and private sectors to address barriers to private investments and partnerships for projects like municipal water, broadband, and the electrical grid.
The Treasury Department will be holding a summit September 9th to bring together developers and investors, as well as government officials, to find ways to finance infrastructure improvements.
This new center will help cities and states get financing and partnerships with the private sector and provide a way for government to get guidance, technical advice, and access to federal money.
The White House explained what the Build America Transportation Investment Center will offer:
- ‘Navigator Service’ for the Public and Private Sector: Through hands-on support, advice and expertise, the center will make DOT credit programs more understandable and accessible to states and local governments and leverage both public and private funding to support ambitious projects. The center will also provide private sector developers and infrastructure investors with tools and resources to identify and execute successful PPPs.
- Improved Access to DOT Credit Programs: The center will encourage awareness and efficient use of existing resources at the Department, including the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. TIFIA provides long-term, flexible financing to highway and transit projects that feature dedicated revenue sources. Each dollar of Federal TIFIA funding can support about $10 in loans, loan guarantees or lines of credit. In many cases, the lower cost of capital and flexible terms offered by TIFIA are critical factors in determining whether a PPP is a viable and cost-effective option for a project. The center will also focus on the use of key DOT programs including the Private Activity Bond program (PABs), and the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program (RRIF).
- Technical Assistance: The center will share best practices from states that are leading the way on private investment to states that have not yet adopted innovative financing strategies, encouraging a more robust national market. Today, the top six states for PPPs have nearly two-thirds the value of all U.S. PPP projects. Twenty states have no PPPs in transportation at all. The center will provide technical assistance to help remove barriers to ensure the public and private sector can come together to complete projects that make sense. Through a website and on-demand technical assistance, the center will provide information about DOT credit programs, case studies of successful projects and examples of deal structures, standard operating procedures for PPP projects and analytical toolkits. It will also help interested investors better understand how DOT credit and grant programs can be used together to support project development.
- Information to Reduce Uncertainty and Delays: The center will work in partnership with the interagency Infrastructure Permitting Improvement center to provide visibility for local and state governments, project sponsors and investors on the permitting process.
The White House pointed to Florida’s success using public-private partnerships to build over $6 billion in transportation projects since 2001.
President Obama will be making the announcement at the Port of Wilmington in front of the I-495 bridge Thursday afternoon.
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Dennis Foley is an award-winning journalist with a strong background in radio and digital reporting, web development, and multimedia production. Dennis is a Long Island native with several youthful years in New Hampshire as well. Professionally, Dennis has won several Associated Press awards as both a news anchor and as a news director. He also reported live during ABC News Radio's Edward R. Murrow award-winning coverage of Hurricane Sandy from Long Island. Dennis' prior stops have included WRHU-FM (Hempstead/Long Island, NY), New Hampshire Public Radio (Concord, NH), ABC News Radio (New York), WRIV (Riverhead, NY), and KEEL (Shreveport-Bossier, LA). He is excited to join 92.7 WGMD and continue the great legacy the station has as being Delmarva's news authority! Feel free to follow Dennis on Twitter: @DennisJFoley