Volume 9, Issue 7 - February 15, 2017
$6.5 billion available to states for broadband networks
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Ever heard of FirstNet? Most citizens haven't...and those who have don't know much about it. Yet, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is a public entity that is about to put $6.5 billion to work throughout the country.

FirstNet is an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that was created in 2012 to establish, operate and maintain an interoperable public safety broadband network.  FirstNet was created to handle critical data that first responders, police, fire and EMS depend on daily.  

With its $6.5 billion budget, FirstNet will establish a public-private partnership (P3) to build and operate a first responder network. A nationwide contract is expected sometime shortly after March 1. 

As of December 2016, AT&T was the lone bidder that had reached the "competitive range" stage of the evaluation process, which is when negotiations are allowed with top bidders.  Currently, FirstNet is expected to present state plans to governors in the second half of 2017.  This is when citizens and taxpayers should really start to pay attention because the process will be more than interesting.

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The day of the drones may sound like the overtaking of a male bee colony or some science-fiction movie, but in reality this unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) deserves a day of recognition because it has gone to extremes...even putting a man back in the drone. 

A Chinese-made passenger-carrying drone, called an eHang 184, recently made its debut in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and is expected to be flying commuters through the city in July. The 440-pound aircraft can carry up to 220 pounds, has a battery life of a half-hour of flight time and can travel up to 31 miles- which will be monitored remotely by a control room on the ground. The top speed of this machine is 100 mph, but will operate around 62 mph for travel. Once the passenger puts on the seat belt they select a destination on a touch-screen pad and the drone takes it from there. 

The passenger-carrying drone was first introduced in January 2016 in Las Vegas, Nev., at the Consumer Electronics Show. Since the Federal Aviation Administration has no guidelines for its use, these egg-shaped, four-legged vehicles will remain grounded, for now, in the United States. But the smaller, unmanned versions are welcome in America's air space as long as the owner/operator follows the FAA rules and regulations.

The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has invited conservation partners to submit applications by April 21 to receive federal funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). This is the fourth RCPP funding opportunity, which will total NRCS awarding up to $252 million all over the country to locally-driven, public-private partnerships that will improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and complete a variety of other environmental initiatives.

Proposal applicants are required to match or exceed the federal award with funds provided by private or local sources. Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, the RCPP aims to connect potential partners with various entities to design and implement voluntary conservation solutions that benefit natural resources, agriculture and the economy. These potential partners include private industry, NGOs, Indian tribes, state and local governments, local soil and water districts and universities.
Upcoming contracting opportunities

Rhode Island- The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has started a bid process by sending out a request for qualifications for the design and construction of a replacement for the Route 6 and Route 10 interchange in the state's capital. Having been in the works for over 30 years, the project has a new design that will improve regional traffic flow, help to reconnect the surrounding neighborhoods, and create bike paths. Nine of the bridges in the interchange will be replaced using $400 million in funds that were allocated by the state's RhodeWorks program.

Construction is projected to begin this fall and includes many improvements. There will be a reduction in traffic congestion on the direct connection from Route 10 North to Route 6 West, a construction of 1.4 miles of new bike baths, a clearing of land for development and greenspace and the elimination of the merge at the Harris Avenue on-ramp.
North Dakota- The Minnesota Soybean Processors (MnSP), its subsidiary North Dakota Soybean Processors (NDSP) and the North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission are conducting a preliminary front-end engineering and design study to determine the feasibility of building a soybean processing plant in Spiritwood, N.D. The construction of this $240 million plant is the first of its kind in the state. 

MnSP, a membership cooperative that owns and operates a soybean crush facility and biodiesel operation in Brewster, Minn., has selected the 150-acre site. The plant will produce 900,000 tons of soybean meal annually, which is usually used as livestock feed for poultry and swine, but can also be used for cattle and 490 million pounds of oil. The co-op will move forward with construction following the necessary approvals and an engineering study.
New York- A request for proposals (RFP) has been issued for a consultant to carry out preliminary engineering work for the proposed AirTrain connection to LaGuardia Airport in New York. The RFP is open to all qualified firms and responses are due in four weeks. By 2030, the number of passengers at LaGuardia is projected to grow by over 6 million annually. To assist with the increase of customers, the state has begun plans for a New York AirTrain connection to LaGuardia Airport. The RFP has been issued to find a consultant team that will complete the first stage of engineering work for the proposed connection, which will focus on three different portions of the project. 

First, the team will be responsible for constructing up to two new AirTran stations at new terminal buildings. Second, the team will work towards the construction of a Willets Point AirTran Station. Lastly, the consultants will aid in constructing the "right-of-way" for the train from the airport to Willets Point. Willets Point is already set to have some improvements, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority constructing a new Long Island Rail Road station and a new subway station.
Louisiana- The city of New Orleans is currently seeking a private operator for the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad. The city is looking for the private operator to enter a 40-year lease with $20 million being paid up front and $1 million to be paid annually. 

The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad presents a lucrative opportunity as it operates more than 100 miles of track that connects to six major railroads and serves various railroad companies. An RFQ was released to solicit interest and in the request for waiver, it is detailed that the operator would be responsible for capital improvements and maintenance as well as providing short and long term growth plans.
Pennsylvania- The property of a former asphalt shingle plant, which was torn down in 2010, has the potential to be part of a $300 million construction project that could generate up to $10 million annually in collective tax revenues for the city of Erie. The city is currently seeking $5 million in state grants to assist with the multi-million-dollar redevelopment of the former plant site on Presque Isle Bay. 

The money is being requested on behalf of the land owner, Erie Events, from the state's Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program and would be used on the 12.5-acre site for stormwater retention, water and sewer lines and utilities. The land that once housed the shingle plant is part of 29 acres that includes a convention center, new hotel and parking garage. Once developers are selected, the planned development would be built in stages and would include retail space, restaurants, offices, residential units, an indoor market, parking lot, bicycle trails and green space along the waterfront.
New York- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Village of Lowville is the only area municipality to receive state funding to replace, expand and upgrade pipes and wastewater treatment systems. The governor's budget proposal for the next fiscal year includes $2 billion to be allocated over a five-year period to protect water quality and improve drinking and wastewater systems. 

Lowville received $10.9 million for planning, design and construction of their five-street sewer repair, replacement and separation project. They also received $5.3 million for the wastewater treatment plant improvements project.
Minnesota- Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed spending $125 million on cybersecurity and system upgrades for Minnesota. Dayton also recommended the creation of a new House committee that would oversee the ever-changing technology landscape and suggest various actions.

The IT spending would include $74 million for system security updates and $51 million would fund upgrading technology infrastructure. Chief Information Officer Thomas Baden said that strong cybersecurity protections are critical to protect Minnesota citizens, businesses and the state from attacks from cybercriminals. Last year Minnesota devoted $45 million towards cybersecurity.
News about public-private partnerships (P3s)

Massachusetts- The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) recently issued a request for information RFI to gather responses from industry experts and other relevant parties for a proposed Metropolitan Highway System (MHS) Lighting Project. MassDOT would like to contract with an outside party to construct, finance, and operate the lighting system. 

The lighting project is a proposal that will improve the lighting of the tunnels and other portions of the MHS, which includes the replacement of the wireways, the wireway lighting circuit conductors, the tunnel lighting fixture assemblies and other components of the lighting. The RFI is aimed to estimate private sector interest in the range of services detailed by the lighting project, focusing on lighting management and lighting installation.

The RFI is an initiative led by members of the MassDOT Public-Private Partnership Program, and the RFI is being administered in conjunction with the Highway Division. Responses are requested by 12 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.
The U.S. Department of State Secretary's Office of Global Partnerships, Concordia and the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Institute for Business in Society are accepting applications through April 3, for the fourth annual P3 Impact Award. The award honors exemplary public-private partnerships from around the world. 

The winning partnership for the 2017 competition will be announced at the Concordia Annual Summit in New York City Sept. 18 and 19. The recipient will receive a full scholarship for a weeklong Darden Executive Education course. All finalists will be featured in the Darden School's Ideas to Action website. The winner will be chosen based off of the partnership's measurable impact, economic and social benefits, innovative approach, financial effectiveness and scalability. The application instructions and full list of criteria can be found here.
Illinois- From running out of water to elevators not working, a dorm that is part of the SIU Carbondale Towers at Southern Illinois University (SIU) is in desperate need of a renovation. The SIU Board of Trustees recently voted to begin accepting bids for a public-private partnership for new east campus housing. 

The PPP would include up to two new student low-rise residence halls with an opening date of 2019. Once a developer is chosen through a qualifications-based process, administrators will engage in negotiations with that company. Then, a contract proposal will be brought back to the board for approval. The goal is to eventually tear down the three 17-story, high-rise towers that are current residence halls.
New Mexico- The Santa Fe Senate unanimously passed Senator Michael Padilla's Bill 143, which is titled the New Mexico Infrastructure Act, out of the Senate Corporations Committee. This piece of legislation allows state and local governments to join in partnerships with private companies to deliver an array of broadband services. This bill also assigns public-private partnerships the task of completing the energy efficiency retrofitting of public buildings, which will only assist broadband growth. 

Supporters of the bill see economic growth and jobs that will result from the greater broadband access. This is true for rural and urban communities, that will use this broadband access to grow local businesses, while also being a suitable tool for larger areas that are aiming to attract big businesses who want to come to New Mexico but are worried about sufficient internet connection. 

Senate Bill 143 will now go to Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate and House Democrats have also highlighted that increasing access to broadband is a priority for the job creation and economic development effort set for this legislative session. Senate Bill 143 is monumental because it will be the first time New Mexico will invest in this type of project to stimulate job growth.
Virginia- The oceanfront's dome site in Virginia Beach is available now that that the agreement with a recent developer has expired. The city is looking at a public-private partnership to help transform the 10-acre parcel into an entertainment center. Advertising the call out to developers has begun and the deadline to submit concepts is in April. 

Each respondent will be required to demonstrate its ability to build an entertainment venue that features multi-block mixed use development, a minimum 3,500-seat performance venue, unique market retail and restaurants, residential use and year-round programming. The 19th Street corridor could provide a revenue boost for Virginia Beach. The city council has also been considering an arena, field house and convention center hotel in the vicinity.
Delaware- Gov. John Carney announced plans for the Economic Development Working Group that will lead in developing recommendations for instituting a public-private partnership at the Delaware Economic Development Office. This working group will explore how the state government can collaborate with the private sector to attract new, growing companies to the state, to build a stronger entrepreneurial community and to support innovation.

The working group is projected to begin its investigation in February and report back to the governor's office by April 7. This group includes a member from each of the General Assembly's four caucuses, four representatives from the private community, the Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office, the Governor's Policy Director, and other representatives from the nonprofit sector, higher education, labor and the public.
Tennessee- Gov. Bill Haslam has proposed $58.8 million in capital spending for state parks across Tennessee. There is also an ongoing effort to privatize hospitality at Fall Creek Falls State Park. This would be the first park to have a private vendor take over management of its hotel, conference center, restaurant and golf course. 

Henry County's Paris Landing State Park is set to receive $23.7 million for the demolition of its inn and construction of a new one that would include conference space and a restaurant. Funds would also be used to renovate the inn at Pickwick Landing State Park in Hardin County. Montgomery Bell State Parks would also receive enhancements to their hospitality operations.
Calendar of Events

Feb 27-March 1
The 2017 Public-Private Partnership Conference & Expo (P3C) will be held Feb. 27 through March 1 at the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas. The P3C offers education and networking opportunities to professionals exploring P3s and want to better understand how the model can address their project delivery needs. 

An audience of over 1,200 senior government leaders, higher education officers, and industry development professionals provides a unique opportunity to network with prospective partners and clients in a development focused forum.

The 2017 program will examine trends in P3 delivery, provide granular case studies, host conversations with project owners and stakeholders, and explores best practices and lessons learned. Visit  the website to learn more and to register for the event. 
Feb. 22 and 23
Join CityAge for "Build the Future" on Feb. 22 and 23 at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The conference provides an opportunity to understand and identify key markets and emerging opportunities; meet industry and government leaders; visit key markets and key contacts; and build collaboration and communication among individuals, organizations, professions, sectors and cities around the world.

CityAge is a platform for ideas and business development, designed to enable new partnerships among the business, government and societal decision makers who are building the 21st Century. Register here for the event. 
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