DRA Remains Committed to Developing Infrastructure in the DeltaMay 19, 2017
Infrastructure development was a core purpose for the Delta Regional Authority’s creation in 2000, and today it remains at the forefront of DRA investments. Strengthening modern infrastructure is a key strategic goal that promotes investments in the roads, rails, ports, water and sewer systems and other capacities that support the success of our local communities and businesses.
National Infrastructure Week provides a great opportunity to assess the needs of the Delta region and plan for the investments and improvements that will nurture economic development and attract businesses to our region.
Strengthening our infrastructure across the Delta is the foundation of all our economic development efforts. Without it, new businesses won’t locate in our communities, and existing businesses will look for other regions that have the infrastructure to meet thInfeir needs.
Just as important, we must improve failing infrastructure that threatens business and job growth and is detrimental to Delta communities that already have to overcome high poverty rates, low educational attainment and poor health outcomes.
DRA is addressing these needs with a proven model of collaborating and partnering with community leaders, regional planning and development agencies, congressional delegations, and the governor of each of our eight states to ensure we dedicate resources in the most effective way possible. Our agency is modeled to be an economic development agency that focuses on infrastructure improvements.
To address our nation’s needs, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced at the Infrastructure Week kickoff event on Monday that the administration would unveil a $1 trillion infrastructure plan later this year. She noted that the investment would be made over the next decade, emphasizing the importance of approaching our community infrastructure needs with smart public-private partnerships. She outlined a plan that called for a public investment of $200 billion that would help create $1 trillion in total partnership investments.
There are many challenges to make our region’s infrastructure competitive, but first we need to understand our current status.
Just a few weeks ago, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our nation a D+ grade in infrastructure. Delta communities didn’t fare any better.
Economic development groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have recommended approaches that reflect DRA’s strategy by noting that existing federal programs should be utilized as a funding mechanism; investments or financing of infrastructure should include the best use of taxpayer dollars; and long-term infrastructure improvements need a reliable funding source to be successful
All of these factors clearly demonstrate that DRA, as an existing federal program, will continue to be an effective funding mechanism for infrastructure improvements. Indeed, the need for DRA has never been greater. Our agency is an effective financial steward of taxpayer dollars, and our funding is used to attract public and private entities willing to invest in Delta communities.
DRA has partnered with public and private investors to provide $3.5 billion in total investments in the Delta region, bolstering our roads, ports, waterways, and providing broadband service to rural areas to help retain and attract new jobs.
DRA fully supports the president’s infrastructure priority and is looking forward to remaining a vital agency that will bring modern infrastructure to life. High-functioning and reliable transportation networks, clean water and sewer systems, and efficient airports and waterways are essential for the long-term success of resilient Delta communities. Our agency remains committed to collaborating with our public and private investors to spur the strengthening of the Delta’s infrastructure and building communities that will retain the businesses we have, attract new industry and encourage the growth and development of entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses.