A panel of infrastructure and county advocates, and a county official shared their views on the role infrastructure plays in economic growth and job creation during the MACo Summer Conference. The panel titled “Local Infrastructure – Fueling Your Economic Engine” was moderated by Delegate Tawanna Gaines and sponsored by MACo’s affiliate organization, the County Engineers Association of Maryland.
Casey Dinges, Senior Managing Director of Public Affairs with the American Society of Civil Engineers kicked off the discussion sharing information from the organization’s most recent report card for America’s Infrastructure. America’s cumulative infrastructure grade is a D+. Infrastructure includes bridges, dams, energy, public parks and recreation, roads, schools, solid waste, transit, and wastewater. He also shared deficient bridge information for Prince George’s County and offered advice for county leaders. To improve county infrastructure, he advised county leaders to understand their community’s infrastructure challenges and outlook, make infrastructure a priority, support a robust local program, and welcome new innovative methods and funding ideas.
Emilia Istrate, Director of Research for the National Association of Counties (NACo) focused mostly on transportation infrastructure and shared county statistics. Counties own 45% of road and bridge infrastructure nationwide. In Maryland, counties own 72% of road infrastructure and one-third of the bridges. She discussed the importance of infrastructure to sustain your tax base, increase land values, and create jobs.
Chris Phipps, Director of Public Works in Anne Arundel County discussed the economic benefits of public water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. Chris further described the economic benefits of projects – jobs, clean water, tourism boost – through two case studies; one focusing on a waste water treatment plant upgrade, and the second focusing on the county’s watershed restoration program. Upgrading the wastewater treatment facility identified in the case study yielded an average of 150 construction workers on site and 26 firms received contracts or subtracted to perform work. There are also fiscal impacts at the planning and design phase of the project. These same type of benefits occur when carrying out watershed restoration projects.
Panelist presentations can be found on MACo’s Summer Conference App.