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Will we see more Public Private Partnerships with Obama Administration?

From today's St. Louis Post Dispatch:

In his victory speech on Tuesday night, President-elect Barack Obama told supporters there would be a long road ahead in fixing the nation's problems. The construction industry hopes the first steps involve building and repairing that road.

The topic is key for construction companies already hurt by shrinking state and federal budgets for infrastructure projects.

Obama's platform included creating what his campaign dubbed the national infrastructure reinvestment bank – a system intended to attract public and private investment for economic development projects with an initial $60 billion infusion of federal money for construction over the next 10 years. Infrastructure could include projects such as housing.

We will have more on this when it is fleshed out.

The Obama plan to use both public and private money also presents its own set of challenges.

Forming public-private funding partnerships is a painstaking process, said Susan Stauder, vice president of infrastructure and public policy for the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association. Having done public private partnerships in Virgina, the answer is "yes" they are not easy, but well worth the time and effort to bring the private sector into the project. Not only for financing but the new ideas.

And finding private money may be arduous given the current credit crisis, she added.

My colleagues and I will be writing more on this. Everything we are hearing is that the private sector is looking for opportunities to invest in US infrastructue even in these times.

In conclusion the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports: "It may be better if the new president and congressional leaders launch a stimulus package that focused on public projects, such as roads and highways."

The Obama plan should include public private partnerships to get the biggest "bang for the bucks" and hopefully we will see that happen.

Shirley Ybarra is Senior Transportation Policy Analyst


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