Volume 9, Issue 40- October 11, 2017
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Very large contracting opportunities are being announced weekly in regions with U.S. seaports. Literally billions of dollars will be spent in the near future on all types of public projects related to ports. The American Association of Port Authorities estimates ports and private-sector partners will spend $154.8 billion over the next five years on seaport infrastructure repair, expansion and upgrades. 

There are many reasons for the uptick in projects. First, there has been an increase in trade and the country's ports all need upgrading to keep pace and to accommodate the super ships coming through the Panama Canal. Additionally, security has become a threat and most seaports need significant upgrades. Environmental issues will force other types of projects. Funding through government grants is available now and some regions are leveraging the grant funds with private-sector capital in order to launch larger initiatives. 

Seaports employ more than 23 million people in the U.S. And, about 26 percent of the country's overall economic activity - nearly $4.6 trillion in total economic activity and $321 billion in federal state and local taxes- is attributable to ports.  

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently awarded its annual Port Security Grants. This year's program is backed by $100 million in funding. That's enough to get the attention of almost every contracting firm interested in opportunities at seaports.

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in fall 2017, about 50.7 million students attended public elementary and secondary schools in the United States. Of these, 35.6 million are in prekindergarten through eighth grade and 15.1 million will be in grades 9 through 12. An additional 5.2 million students were expected to attend private elementary and secondary schools. The fall 2017 public school enrollment is slightly higher than the 50.6 million enrolled in fall 2016. 

As student enrollment increases, so does the need for additional space in classrooms. If space is unavailable, sometimes portable buildings are needed to teach the overflow of students from the school buildings or district lines may be redrawn. If funding is available, additional schools are built or current ones are remodeled and expanded. 

Laurel Public Schools, the 10th largest district in Montana, is dealing with overcrowding in all of its schools. It's expected to become a bigger problem within the next five years because the district has already surpassed projected enrollment. Taxpayers will be tasked to vote in November on a $52.5 million bond request for the future of public schools in Laurel. 

The project includes a remodel of West Elementary School and conversion of South Elementary School to the Laurel High School Career and Technical Campus. A new 3-5 grade elementary school will be built on 30 acres at the intersection of Yard Office Road and Eleanor Roosevelt Street. This new school would effectively replace Graff Elementary School. Administration would then move into the vacated Graff building and conduct a survey on what to do with the current administration building, which is the former middle school. A tear-down would cost roughly $800,000 due to asbestos, but there is interest in purchase of the building.


Michigan- The University of Michigan (UM)-Dearborn is planning a $90 million project to redevelop an engineering building by fall 2020. The 120,000-square-foot building on the northeast side of campus will include laboratories for cybersecurity, robotics, bioengineering, human factors and power engineering. 

The 57,000-square-foot existing engineering building, built in 1959, will be stripped down to steel beams and completely renovated and 63,000 square feet will be added. The project will be funded through the state of Michigan's capital outlay budget, bond financing and corporate and university support. Bids on the construction of the project have not been put out yet, but construction is expected to begin in spring 2018.
Wisconsin- The city of Sheboygan is planning a $10.95 million renovation to city hall. The main entrance will move to the opposite side of the building, a three-story glass façade will be added that overlooks a new parking lot and the building's interior would also be remodeled. Demolition and construction fees will reach $8 million and other costs including architectural and engineering fees, permitting costs and contingency funding will add another $2.15 million. 

The projects costs are still only preliminary. It had two separate votes of 14-0 to approve the plan but some city members still wish to go back to the drawing board and have the project closer to $8 million. They are hoping to fund this project through the city's savings. Construction work at city hall could begin early next year.
South Carolina- The Charleston County Council Finance Committee plans to match $3 million of the $18 million estimated for a possible 12-foot-wide bike and pedestrian bridge. The city of Charleston submitted an application for federal funding to build the bridge over the Ashley River. The funds will be for construction only and will not exceed a two-to-one ratio of county spending to city spending. 

The city will apply to the United States Department of Transportation for the remaining $12 million needed for the project. The bicycle advocacy group Charleston Moves will attempt to raise $1.5 million in matching funds from private donors to help with the effort.
Tennessee- Shelby County is preparing for a total renovation of the Criminal Justice Center (CJC) now that the Memphis Police Department has moved out. The county applied for a $17 million permit that will cover three of the seven phases. The overall renovation includes electrical improvements, a more efficient use of office space, asbestos abatement, upgrades for the Americans with Disabilities Act and will bring the CJC into compliance with current high-rise building code conditions. 

The renovation project will occur two floors at a time and relocate staff on floors being renovated to other areas of the building while the work is underway. Shelby has already hired a design firm. Bids will open early next year for the first three of seven construction phases.
Missouri- A request for proposals will be released soon to help build a replacement facility for Maryville's law enforcement and fire department at a cost of $4 million. The Maryville Department of Public Safety facility will be built at First and Vine streets, two blocks away from the current headquarters. On April 4, Maryville citizens voted to renew the existing half-cent sales tax to continue capital improvements throughout the community. 

The city has entered into an agreement with the Maryville School District for the purchase of 1.8 acres near the old Washington Elementary School. The city expects to break ground in April 2018 and to complete the project in early 2019.
Michigan- City of Detroit officials presented a $317-million plan to improve 300 miles of roads and thousands of damaged sidewalks. Mayor Mike Duggan plans to propose a portion of that funding come from investing $125 million in bond funds. The bonds, which would be repaid through un-budgeted increases in state transportation revenue over the next several years, will be considered by the Detroit City Council. 

Of the $125 million in the proposal, about $80 million would fund major infrastructure improvements along some of the city's commercial corridors. Improvements would include landscaping, reconfiguring traffic lanes to add bike lanes, improved street parking and wider sidewalks to allow for outdoor café seating. The remaining $45 million would add to existing road funds to improve 300 miles of city roads and replace hundreds of thousands of broken sections of sidewalk across the city. There are also plans to spend another $193 million of budgeted city, state and federal dollars to repave roads and replace sidewalks. Work on streetscape projects are expected to begin by early 2018 and continue over the next five years.
Illinois- The city of Batavia acquired the Thomle building in 1995 through the eminent domain process. The two-story limestone structure was falling apart, had numerous building code violations and the interior space was covered with bird droppings.  

The city made extensive repairs to the building, located at 2 E. Wilson St., including facade improvements. The exterior work also included signage bearing the Thomle name and the structure's origin. The building has been placed on the market and the city has plans to release a request for proposals (RFP) to see what options are available for the vacant space.

Florida-  The St. Johns County Ocean Pier is in danger of disappearing despite being rebuilt several times over the years. A study performed on the pier several years ago showed that the pier only had about 10 years left. However, after the recent hurricane, this prediction may need to be revisited. Currently, the pier and adjoining parking lot are owned by the county, but the city of St. Augustine Beach would like to take over the land and save the pier through a public-private partnership (P3). 

The city estimates replacing the pier would cost between $10 to $14 million and has proposed using hotel and motel occupancy tax dollars for bonds. City officials have been tasked to create a report on the current state of the pier and how the city plans to approach the effort, as well as finding organizations that could give the city advice on forming a P3.
Colorado-  The Durango-La Plata County Airport has a terminal that may be due for some remodeling next year and airport officials plan to hire a contractor to study the airport's fees. The research will include the cost benefits of a public-private partnership to fund airport improvements. 

The airport expects to spend $465,000 on the remodel and $350,000 on parking lot maintenance, a water storage tank, snow removal equipment and security upgrades in 2018. The results of the study should be ready next year.
Terry McAuliffe
Virginia-  Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced he has released a request for proposals (RFP) to deploy a system as part of his initiative to support electric vehicle adoption of 15 percent by 2027. Virginia is planning to build a statewide public charging network for electric vehicles. The project is designed to jump-start the adoption of electrical cars and generate more private investment in electric vehicle technology. Responses to the RFP are due Nov. 6.  

Funding for the initiative includes $14 million from a settlement with Volkswagen. The settlement, which resulted from the use of emissions testing defeat devices in Volkswagen vehicles, requires the auto company to establish an environmental mitigation trust. Virginia is expected to receive $93.6 million from this trust, and the commonwealth may spend a maximum of 15 percent on electric vehicle infrastructure.
Washington-  The long-discussed sports complex in downtown Spokane may finally be able to move forward. Last week the Spokane Park Board began considering partnerships for the complex which would allow the city to raise the needed $30 million without asking for voters to increase taxes. The proposal relies on taxes collected from hotel and motel room occupants to finance part of the new complex. 

The facility would be built on a 5-acre lot north of Riverfront Park near the Veterans Memorial. Plans for the complex include basketball and volleyball courts and a 200-meter track that could be lifted with hydraulics from beneath the complex's floor. Plans also include an ice rink with 1,000 seats that is built to National Hockey League specifications. The city plans to complete the project by 2019.
North Carolina-  New Hanover County provides recycling containers at town hall, but residents of Wrightsville Beach may be getting curbside service. In November, the town's Board of Aldermen will consider whether to approve putting out a request for proposals (RFP) to find a contractor. According to the RFP that will be discussed during the aldermen's meeting, the town is looking for a contractor that will provide new 95-gallon carts for curbside recycling. 

The new recycling service would be provided throughout the town and be single-stream collection for single-family homes as well as multi-family dwellings with less than six units. The cost for the service would be passed on to the residents of the town on a bi-monthly basis, and the town would in turn pay the contractor.
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