Volume 7, Issue 21 - September 2, 2015
Drones! Get ready ... they are coming!
|Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.|
Most people think of drones as unmanned aircraft being used overseas in militarized zones. However, drones will likely impact businesses more than military operations in the very near future. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that the commercial drone industry will likely grow to $90 billion in the coming decade.
According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, it is estimated that the agriculture sector will make up 80 percent of the drone market in the near-term. Not only will drones be able to spray crops, the incredibly precise, detailed aerial imaging that drones are capable of producing will enable a strategically directed use of fertilizers and pesticides on crops. This will substantially reduce pollutants in the environment.
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Cincinnati attracts $2 billion of public, private money
Riverfront redevelopment project has been two decades in the making.
Cincinnati's urban core is undergoing a major redevelopment that's being built with billions of dollars in both public and private investment. Not just one project, the development of Cincinnati's riverfront has been a nearly 20-year undertaking that is still ongoing.
Begun in 1997 with the formation of a public-private partnership led by the state of Ohio, the city itself and Hamilton County, the effort has been an attempt to revitalize a city center that had seen the area's population dwindle and businesses leave. Its first major projects were the construction of two ball parks (for Major League Baseball's Reds and the NFL's Bengals) and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Late last month, the latest phase broke ground with the launch of another construction project that will make up what's become known as The Banks.
The Banks is the name given to the next phase of the total redevelopment of Cincinnati's riverfront downtown. That has included not just the two stadiums and underground railroad museum, but also a riverfront park and a large mixed-use development that combines bars, restaurants, retail outlets and apartments.
This current phase encompasses the development of 18 acres of property between the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium and the home of the Reds, the Great American Ball Park. There are currently four construction projects that will build more residences, retail space, General Electric's new U.S. global operations center and a hotel.
Later stages of development will bring infrastructure and street projects. Development and contracting opportunities are available for review here.
Roadmap to upcoming opportunities
Interested in staying ahead of the competition? Then ... take note! Government entities throughout Texas have called November bond elections.
These bond votes represent contracting work valued at $8.7 billion. New construction, renovation and maintenance projects, road work, new bridges, street improvements, new public safety buildings, parks renovations and water and wastewater projects - this is what the bond funding will cover.
The Strategic Partnerships team will deliver all the details and subscribers will be able to get information that is not available anywhere else. Order now and be among the first to receive the information!
Can Google get government to work like a startup?
Government Innovation Lab designed to break through silos that stifle collaboration
Three California counties are teaming up with Google to try to find innovations within government services. The company has selected Kern, San Joaquin and Alameda counties to participate in its Government Innovation Lab, which has been designed to get local governments to work like a tech startup.
In Kern County, the first couple of months working with Google have already been productive. The collaboration's first products are going to their user testing phase already.
The first prototype is a Virtual Resource Library (VRL), an online hub that will serve as a crowdsourced venue for county services and collaboration. It is designed to bring together contributors from various county departments and from the public to share information and experiences. The VRL will also integrate data and information from state agencies, educational institutions, religious organizations and the private sector. A major component will be an employment portal that will serve as a sort of job-matching service, evaluating a user's employment profile and matching them with tailored job opportunities.
Kern County's second app was conceived as a method of sharing information across departments and agencies. It will pull information and data from many different sources and funnel it into a single centralized database for analysis.
County employees have noted that the fruits of the process are similar to the goal of the prototype itself. The app was designed to break down informational barriers between departments and offices, and the process of dreaming it up carried out that goal precisely. It brought together county staff in cross-departmental groups of about 10 to share their experiences and needs, and those groups facilitated an understanding of shared goals and challenges between the agencies.
Alameda County isn't far behind Kern in its work with Google, and San Joaquin County is scheduled to launch its collaboration in the fall. But Kern's success has been so immediate and fruitful that the county has announced plans for construction of its first Office of Innovation, scheduled to be built in Bakersfield in 2016.
Upcoming contracting opportunities
Coralville council to ask for preliminary arena design
The Coralville, Iowa, City Council approved a contract to formulate the preliminary design of an arena proposed for the city's Iowa River Landing. City Administrator Kelly Hayworth (pictured) said the design will address what will be included in the 7,000-seat arena and performance center and how much its construction will cost. "That really tells us, number one, what is it going to look like and what is going to be included and it's going to include a cost estimate so that we know what kind of money we're looking at that we need to raise," he said. In June, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board awarded a $9.5 million investment to be used toward the arena's estimated cost of $45 million. That funding came from the IEDA's state-funded Reinvestment District program, which allows new state hotel/motel and sales taxes to be reinvested within approved districts. To be eligible for the funding, Coralville must submit a final application for review before March 1, 2016 and final funding decisions will be made after the IEDA board evaluates the final application. If the state money is approved, Hayworth said work on a final design will begin soon thereafter.
$55 million approved for Wilson school projects
Wilson County, Tenn., has approved six building projects with a total value of just more than $55 million. The plans call for the construction of one new elementary school in the Mt. Juliet area and renovations to five further schools. The county commission approved refinancing two existing bonds, which will save the county more than $500,000 in interest, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said. The first $27 million allotted for the school projects will be issued by the end of October for renovation projects planned for Tuckers Crossroads, Gladeville, Southside and Watertown elementary schools. The remaining money is expected to be issued in the summer of 2016 for the new elementary school and renovations at a Mt. Juliet middle school. The district said that it will likely proceed with the design phase of the Mt. Juliet middle school project with its own money prior to issuing of the bonds. It is also converting the former Lebanon High School building into a new administrative office at a cost of $14.5 million.
Cedar Park buys quarry for eventual redevelopment
| The Cedar Park, Texas, City Council approved the acquisition of a quarry from neighboring Austin for $4.1 million. The city will close the quarry and has plans to redevelop it. "This is kind of exciting, because, since I moved here in 1999 and built my first house, the concern of the citizens has been the quarry and the blasting and noise and dust and what's going to happen," said Cedar Park Mayor Matt Powell (pictured). Austin has owned the 215-acre Lime Creek Quarry since 1987. It originally planned to use the site for the disposal of a brownish-gray powder, made up primarily of calcium carbonate, a byproduct of water treatment, but that plan never went through. Cedar Park annexed the property in 1994, and the Texas Legislature passed a bill in 2007 blocking Austin from using the site as a dumping ground without Cedar Park's approval. The Cedar Park City Council also has extended the current quarry operator's lease until 2023, at which point the quarry will be closed.|
Wisconsin approves $1.9 million water project in Tomah
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission has approved the Tomah Water Utility's plan to drill a well to provide an adequate water supply while a reservoir is being repaired. The reservoir project will fix the million-gallon, ground-level tank, which has a rusted roof and overhang on its exterior as well as some interior rust. Officials were quick to assert that the rusted interior components are above the water line and do not affect the quality of the stored water. When the tank is emptied for repairs, Tomah will be left with a pumping capacity deficit and unable to provide recommended water volume to fight fires in all parts of the city, according to an engineering report the utility commissioned. The city will replace the lost water supply by drilling a $1.2 million well on the town's northwest side. The Department of Natural Resources has approved the well project but is waiting for the utility to submit the reservoir repair's final design. The repairs should begin in 2017 or 2018, depending on when the engineering is completed, and will be finished in about three months. The well and tank repair project is estimated to cost $1.865 million.
Forsyth County to build highway interchange
Forsyth County, Ga., has announced plans to convert a congested intersection on state highway 400 into an interchange between highways. Last week the county commission voted to use projected savings from another roads project to pay for the design of an interchange at Browns Bridge Road. Both projects are part of the $200 million transportation bond program that county voters had approved in 2014. The costs of the first project have come in at a price substantially lower than planned. "Our budget for that project, at least our contribution, was estimated to be $53 million," County Attorney Ken Jarrard (pictured) said. "The actual project came in at $37.5 million, at least from the county's requirement in respect to that. Therefore, for purposes of the county, that was a $15 million cost savings." The design of the interchange project is expected to take about 18 months and cost $600,000. Once completed, the project will transform the crossing into a more traditional-looking exit. Construction will not start until at least 2018, at a cost of $18 million from the county and $25 million from the state.
S.C. State gets $500,000 more for pedestrian bridge
The Orangeburg, S.C., County Transportation Committee granted the state $500,000 to build a pedestrian bridge so that students can commute to the campus of South Carolina State University more safely. "It is a need in the city of Orangeburg, and we believe that it will be a great benefit to the campus at S.C. State and the community as a whole," a South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) official said. The total project cost is $3.6 million. Prior to the county grant, the project had three funding sources totaling just under $3.1 million for the project. SCDOT said this project consists of the bridge itself, with twin towers on each side, a ramp structure that can accommodate wheelchairs, landscaping and lighting features for added security and aesthetics. SCDOT is coordinating with the university and other project stakeholders throughout the development of the project.
UT-Permian Basin STEM Academy expansion funded
The University of Texas System (UT) has awarded $1.2 million to a charter school operated by its campus in Odessa. The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) STEM Academy will use the money to help fund a parking lot and buildings for expansion. The STEM Academy opened in August 2014 and began with students in grades kindergarten through six and will add an upper grade each year as the students advance. Superintendent Juli D'Ann Ratheal-Burnett (pictured) said the school received $2.1 million from UT last year. The projects will be put out for bid in September. Ratheal-Burnett said that the academy has started working with UTPB on a needs assessment for the parking lot and buildings. Ratheal-Burnett said the school has not decided on the scope of the new construction. "We have to see what the bids look like when they come in, so we can best utilize the money," she said. "This time last year, we were in the gym. We won't have to worry next year, because we will have buildings put down long before school starts."
FRA to award $10 million to improve rail crossings
|The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is soliciting applications from states for $10 million in competitive grant funding to improve highway-rail grade crossings along routes that transport energy products like crude oil and ethanol. The guidelines for the grant applications encourage states to include innovative solutions to improve safety. The funding is part of the Railroad Safety grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program. "The U.S. Department of Transportation has made increasing safety at highway-rail grade crossings, especially along routes transporting energy products, one of its top priorities," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This money allows the Department to support innovative ideas and solutions developed at the local level, and I encourage states to apply for this funding." Highway-rail grade crossings collisions are the second-leading cause of all railroad-related fatalities. Last year, 269 people died in these collisions, which are often caused by a driver's lack of awareness of a crossing or an oncoming train. "Most of these deaths are completely preventable, and that is why the Federal Railroad Administration has redoubled its efforts to reverse last year's upward trend. These funds will allow states to take innovative ideas and make them a reality to increase safety and decrease fatalities," said FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg. |
Spartanburg council contributes to hotel demolition
Spartanburg, S.C., officials are hoping their decision to help pay for the demolition of a vacant hotel will open up a major gateway to the city and set it up for potential redevelopment. The city council approved giving an $80,000 grant to the Spartanburg Development Corp. (SDC) to assist with the demolition of the vacant inn on South Pine Street. The SDC will enter into a loan agreement with the hotel owner to help pay for the demolition cost, estimated to be between $150,000 and $160,000. Though the city is unable to force the owner to demolish the building because it is not structurally unsafe, the hotel was closed in 2014 by the fire marshal due to problems with the living conditions in the rooms, including a bedbug infestation. "To get rid of that eyesore I think would be outstanding," said Councilman Jerome Rice (pictured), who represents the area. "We have plenty of affordable hotel rooms not a block up. We're looking for a creative mind, someone who can see the potential of the area and bring something new to the city."
Texas water board grants Port O'Connor $2.8 million
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved a $2.8 million loan to improve Port O'Connor's water and sewage infrastructure. The Port O'Connor Improvement District requested the funding after residents rejected a previous attempt at an $11 million bond proposition. The $2,815,000 loan came from the Texas Water Development Fund, which could save the district $80,657 over the life of the loan. The project will replace 2-inch pipelines, which have been overloaded due to growth in the unincorporated community. The money will also help the district to install flush valves and loop dead-end valves so that it can come into compliance with environmental standards. But the district's water needs will not be met with just this one project, said Allen Junek, president of the improvement district. He added that the district board will likely call on voters to approve a tax bond as a means to pay for future improvements. "The 'T-word' is something we hate to use. Nobody likes to think about having taxes or raising taxes," he said. "But we're going to need more money in the future. And, the best way to pay for any other improvements would be a tax bond issue."
News about public-private partnerships (P3)
Yukon to use P3 for $50 million dollar sports complex
Yukon, Okla., has closed a $4.8 million deal to purchase more than 250 acres from nearby Oklahoma City and is now ready to build a multi-million dollar sports complex on the site. City Manager Grayson Bottom (pictured) said the complex will feature a soccer stadium and 12 fields, a baseball stadium and four-field complex, a softball stadium and five-field complex and an aquatic center. Yukon city officials are modeling the new complex on similar facilities in Frisco, Texas, and Overland Park, Kan. "The one thing that you note about each one of those is that it is a destination park," he said. "It is built for the purpose of attracting people from all over the mid-U.S." The city will use a public-private partnership to get the project built. "We're not going to have a public fuss, we're not going to increase taxes," Bottom said. "Essentially, it'll be a lease-purchase for 30 years at fixed rates, municipal rates." The city's private partner will obtain financing and manage the project, with the city paying out the loan through sales taxes. The city expects to break ground early in 2016, and the $50 million complex will be developed in phases, taking five to 10 years to complete.
P3 to keep Detroit's highway system well-lit
What is being billed as the nation's first freeway lighting system public-private partnership (P3) was signed last week. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Freeway Lighting Partners (FLP), a consortium of private partners, reached agreement to replace 15,000 lights across bridges, tunnels and highways within the Detroit metro region's freeway system. The partnership will see that all of the freeway lighting will be replaced with newer, more energy-efficient LED lights over the next two years. The annual cost is projected to be lower than what MDOT would otherwise have had to pay to upgrade the system in order to meet the required performance levels. The contract term is 15 years, including the two-year construction period. The private partner will replace or rehabilitate the freeway lighting system during the first two years of the agreement and then operate and maintain the improved lighting system over the remaining 13 years of the contract. At the end of the 15-year term, FLP will hand back control of the lighting system to MDOT. During the operating period, MDOT will make service payments to FLP.
Developers interested in Falls Church school site
| Falls Church, Va., recently held an informational meeting for anyone considering responding to a request for proposals (RFP) issued by the city to develop a roughly 35-acre city-owned property. Falls Church owns the land as a result of a deal to sell the city's water system to Fairfax County. The meeting's attendance overflowed available space. "It's always good when you have a meeting and have to go find more chairs," Falls Church Superintendent Toni Jones (pictured) said after the event. The project is proceeding under the terms of the Public-Private Educational Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002. It will come in two phases. The school component will take the form of either a renovation or construction of a new high school with a 1,500 student capacity and expansion of a middle school. There will also be more than 10 acres that can be commercially developed. Preliminary plans call for the two schools, their accompanying athletic fields, 500 parking spaces and bus parking spaces for school use, plus the 10.38 acres of commercial development to fit on the property. A local developer said, "There was obviously a very high level of curiosity and interest from the development community. It was well-attended and the participants wanted to see if you can fit all the sardines into the can and still get $100 million in value from the project." Developers have until Sept. 23 to submit questions in writing, and the deadline for submission of a proposal is Oct. 30. Finalists will be announced in December, and the deadline for a detailed response will be March 2016.|
Austin P3 faces delays, but construction continues
|Austin Community College (ACC) in Austin, Texas, is dealing with some delays in trying to enact its public-private partnership (P3) with San Antonio-based cloud-computing company Rackspace Holdings. The college has acquired an aging shopping mall and converted one wing into class and office space. In 2014 it also entered into the P3 agreement with the San Antonio company, which will consolidate its Austin operations into one location at the former mall. The deal still hasn't been signed, and there is no hurry to do so, it appears, even though construction has already begun. "This is the first [P3] for Austin Community College and Rackspace," an ACC spokeswoman said. "These types of negotiations take time, but ACC is working closely with Rackspace and progressing through the process." The renovations to the 187,000-square-foot property will cost $14.5 million.|
Newport News extends bid deadline on bus facility shift
| Newport News, Va., has extended a deadline to submit proposals for a public-private partnership (P3) to relocate the school division's bus facility. The facility - known as the SCOT center, for "service center for operations and transportation" - stands in the way of a developer's planned Tech Center research park. The developer submitted an unsolicited proposal in September 2014 to move the bus garage in order to free up the 32.7-acre parcel for office buildings. This summer, the city began accepting proposals from other firms, with an original deadline of Aug. 31. The city has received interest from two potential bidders, one of whom has requested the extension. The new deadline to submit a proposal is Sept. 14. City Manager Jim Bourey (pictured) has said the city may decide not to proceed with any proposal for the project. The developer's proposal estimates construction of the new SCOT center would start in the fourth quarter of 2016 and be completed in the first quarter of 2018, when the school division could start using it.|
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