When Harvard and other major universities begin offering courses to students and professionals focused on public-private partnerships (P3s), it is worthy of notice. When Wall Street announces programs designed around building revenue models for collaborating with government, it is a bellwether of change. And, when organizations hold conferences structured around P3s and thousands of public officials and industry executives attend, it is an indication of what the future holds.

Unless something unforeseen happens, private-sector involvement and investment in public projects will become more common every month of every year in the near future. America’s infrastructure is in dire need of attention, and the ‘fixes’ that are needed are too expensive for government coffers and too complicated to ignore private-sector expertise.

It’s important to note that the term infrastructure encompasses much more than transportation. In fact, infrastructure should be thought of as the ‘social and economic foundation of a country’. It includes basic physical and organizational structures such as public buildings, roads, power grids, water resources, airports, health-care systems, educational facilities.

Infrastructure today encompasses even more. Technology networks, broadband, public safety facilities, and resources – these are all are critical components of life in America.

As Congress considers an infrastructure bill, both political parties agree that the need exists to address infrastructure reform. The public at large also agrees that the country’s needs are great.

The problem is, of course, that Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on how to address infrastructure needs. Almost every initiative that Congress considers gets caught up in partisanship, and critical legislation often languishes until it dies or is pushed over the line by one party. Citizens would not desire such an outcome for an infrastructure bill.

The jury is out on whether or not some sort of compromise can be reached, but hope still lingers because Congressional leaders all have agreed that something should be done.

If, as standard-bearers in government and industry, we could influence party leaders, many of us would urge Congress to pass a bipartisan bill that allows much of the funding to come from private-sector investors. By encouraging investment from alternative sources, including nonprofits, retirement funds, regional banks, insurance companies and industry, the country could avoid a huge amount of debt. And, with guidelines in place, public entities could collaborate with private-sector partners and soon begin the massive task of upgrading the country’s infrastructure.

America has a history of successes resulting from collaboration between public and private-sector partners. Also, there’s decades of success history from other countries that have engaged in collaborative public-private partnerships for decades. It can be done with guidance, encouragement, and knowledgeable government leaders.

Whether or not there is legislative compromise, some sort of an infrastructure bill is destined to emerge. That is what we’ve been told and there appears to be little doubt it will happen – one way or another.

As a result of that belief, the Strategic Partnerships Research Team is working now to outline the research model to track the funding that will become available for infrastructure projects of every size and type throughout the United States. The team will outline funding allocations and then track the funding as it flows from Washington, D.C., to the states, cities, counties, school districts, transit authorities, airports, universities, utilities, health-care organizations, ports, and water districts. No matter how the funding originates, billions will be available for infrastructure projects in the U.S.

That’s why universities are teaching courses to help public officials and industry leaders understand the intricacies and best practices of successful public-private partnerships. It’s the reason why Wall Street firms are offering courses on how to structure investment repayment funding models. And, it’s also why government officials and private-sector firms are standing in line to attend P3 conferences.

As the SPI Research Team puts the final touches on its American Rescue Plan report that will be released on April 15, the team has already turned to another monumental task – outlining and tracking funding that soon will flow to public entities for upcoming infrastructure projects.

In the past, our research team has tracked bond elections in all 50 states and marveled at the billions of dollars that resulted for contracting opportunities. But, the bond packages represent only a fraction of the funding that will soon be available from both the American Rescue Act and the new infrastructure bill.

We are living in historic times, and after an extremely difficult 12-plus months, the future appears bright and encouraging for public officials, citizens, and private-sector contractors. Jobs will be created, infrastructure will get attention, and America’s economic vitality will soon be alive and well again.


Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) is leading the way in the rapidly expanding area of public-private partnerships. Learn about SPI’s service offerings in both the public and private sectors by contacting them today. 


 

Mary Scott Nabers

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.