The Central Chamber Report: Economic Development – Infrastructure

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    We’ve been looking at the five facets of economic development that must be considered if growth is to continue to take place.  Those facets are: Workforce Education, Infrastructure, Leadership, Business Industry, and Recruitment.     
    This week we will discuss the importance of infrastructure.  The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) takes a look every four years at the conditions and performance of our nation’s infrastructure. The nation's overall infrastructure grade for 2013 was a D+, which is a slight improvement over the “D” grade received in 2009. These evaluations are based on capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, and resilience. Infrastructure, and the role it plays on a day to day basis, can easily be taken for granted. However, it is one of the most important issues that governments deal with on a local, state, national, and even international level. 
    Basically, infrastructure is the foundational structures, services and facilities necessary for an economy to function. Infrastructure typically refers to the interrelated systems of roads, bridges, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, telecommunications, etc. that provide commodities and services essential to enable and sustain living conditions. Jeff Delmon, Senior Infrastructure Specialist with the World Bank, alludes to the fact that infrastructure is directly related to economic sustainability, expansion, and competitiveness.  Infrastructure will have an effect on an area’s ability to support commerce, provide quality of life and promote the health of its people. This takes infrastructure services from not just being a good investment but to the level of an economic necessity.
    Failure to invest in infrastructure means a failure to sustain and develop our social and economic wellbeing. Commitment to the development of roads, sewer and water systems, communications, IT, schools, ports, and hospitals is vital to our future.  
    In the movie Field of Dreams, the statement was made, “Build it and they will come!”  Businesses are looking for areas that have an infrastructure foundation in place so that they can come in and hit the ground running.  However, in order to have properly prepared infrastructure, there has to be a tax base that provides funding to accomplish this task.  Thus begins the delicate balance, for a fledgling community such as ours, to put infrastructure in place to draw businesses and put businesses in place to create the necessary infrastructure. (Quick plug – shop Central – it will help!) We must support and encourage our local officials to find that balance.  As we do, we will continue to see economic development and will be able to sustain the quality of life we have come to appreciate in the City of Central!
Ron Erickson, President, Central Chamber of Commerce