Several infrastructure vendors tell Icons of Infrastructure what they see on the horizon. Low interest rates and universal political support ensure a steady flow of infrastructure project announcements.
Port Covington At A Glance
A 235-acre master-planned, mixed-use redevelopment project, with a prime location on the waterfront in Baltimore City. It was an old port-to-railroad terminal in the southern part of the city.
Value: $5.5 billion to $6 billion.
Project duration: Baltimore signed an agreement in September 2016 for the 25-year project.
Key features: Up to 18 million sq ft. of mixed-use development; 2.5 miles of restored waterfront; and 40 acres of parks and green space
Economic impact: At least 70,000 jobs over four decades, including 40,000 to 50,000 construction jobs and 20,000 to 30,000 follow-on jobs upon completion.
Key players: Sagamore Development Company (SDC) is the master developer. ICF, a global consulting services company with over 5,000 specialized experts, developed the project’s workforce strategy that helped secure needed TIF funding.
Financing: Partially paid for with Baltimore-funded tax increment financing, valued at $660 million.
Businesses are feeling pumped about infrastructure opportunities in 2018. Icons of Infrastructure got that message in chats with several project contractors and other firms. Roger Zino, president of DBi Services, says now is the time to green-light transportation infrastructure improvements. DBi provides infrastructure management solutions.
“Currently, both [political] sides of the government are in support of improving our nation’s infrastructure. This is not surprising, as almost every job in America is impacted in some way by transportation,” Zino says. He believes there is opportunity at both the state and federal level, and he says his company is prepared to assist in resolving the country’s most pressing infrastructure problems.
DBI is eager to roll up its sleeves if Trump’s infrastructure plan gets Congress’ approval. Zino says the Trump plan will increase his firm’s opportunities “to support the improvement of our transportation infrastructure and improve and potentially save lives.” Trump’s plan will open the funding floodgates, he believes. “There will be a host of new construction projects that will provide maintenance opportunities during construction and substantive new maintenance projects afterwards and ongoing. As a leader in the infrastructure operations and maintenance industry, DBi is ready to assist the current administration in tackling the infrastructure problems our nation faces today and into the future.”
DBi Services provides infrastructure maintenance, operations and management services and solutions in North America and Europe for government agencies, utilities, private industries, railways, retailers and other infrastructure owners. The company has over 100 locations in 40 states as well as three facilities in Canadian provinces. The firm also operates one of the largest private truck and equipment fleets in the U.S.
Infrastructure is a hot topic among the decision-makers and executives that Icons of Infrastructure contacted. Henry Cisneros, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President Clinton and currently a partner at Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., LLC, says there are an abundance of infrastructure opportunities in the remainder of 2018.
Cisneros says the timing is right for more infrastructure investment. “Interest rates remain low by historic standards, so it is a good time for local and state governments to issue bonds or refinance existing bonds to take advantage of favorable terms.” He adds that the federal tax reform legislation of 2017 preserved a crucial tool for municipal bonds issuers: Private Activity Bonds (PABs). These are tax-exempt bonds issued for a project that serves a public good and is built with private funds. Cisneros believes the proposed Trump infrastructure plan could pour billions into needed infrastructure projects.
Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., LLC is a full-service investment banking and financial services company. It offers municipal investment banking, debt and equity underwriting. The company originates and sells municipal, equity and corporate debt offerings. “Our firm executes and takes to market municipal bond offerings that raise funds for vital infrastructure projects, including roads, public transit, power grids, seaports and airports, schools, hospitals and many other major projects that impact people’s lives on the local, state and national levels,” says Cisneros.
Infrastructure is a sweet spot for his firm, Cisneros tells Icons of Infrastructure. “We manage bond sales by competitively pricing and then connecting buyers with sellers in a way that maximizes value for our clients and ensures that they can raise capital in the most efficient way, thereby allowing them to build the infrastructure that their citizens need or upgrade existing infrastructure that takes advantage of the latest technological solutions.”
Execution is key, Cisneros says. “Our finance experts are able to execute transactions in a way that delivers capital in the most efficient way, meaning an infrastructure project can be funded cost-effectively with as little impact on the taxpayers as we can, while also ensuring major projects are adequately funded.”
“Currently, both [political] sides of the government are in support of improving our nation’s infrastructure. This is not surprising, as almost every job in America is impacted in some way by transportation.”
DATA-DRIVEN WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS IN BALTIMORE
Global consulting company ICF developed the data-driven, evidence-based workforce strategy that helped the master developer secure $660 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) from the city of Baltimore for Port Covington, which is a massive $5.5 to $6 billion redevelopment in Baltimore City, Md. At completion, this 25-year project will include up to 18 million square feet of new, mixed-use development; 2.5 miles of restored waterfront; and 40 acres of parks and green space for Baltimore City.
“ICF developed the workforce strategy for the project in close collaboration with the master developer, Baltimore City’s elected and appointed officials, faith-based leaders and other key community stakeholders,” says Ed Trumbull, a vice president with ICF. The workforce strategy is a key part of the TIF plan’s community benefits agreement. City officials negotiated a commitment from project developers to employ Baltimore city residents for 30 percent of the jobs at Port Covington.
Major U.S. infrastructure opportunities in 2018 will have workforce requirements, such as local hiring goals, use of apprentices, and employment of non-traditional workers, including unemployed and under-employed individuals, Trumbull tells Icons of Infrastructure. “ICF can conquer the complexities of these workforce challenges, as well as address necessary environmental permitting, transportation planning, community engagement and outreach, and policy analysis.”
Trumbull sees a lot of infrastructure activity for businesses in the near future. “Public private partnership infrastructure opportunities are emerging across the nation,” he explains. Washington D.C.’s government; the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro); and Chicago Infrastructure Trust, in coordination with the City of Chicago, are just a few of the public entities in the U.S that are contemplating massive infrastructure upgrades, Trumbull says.