On the West Coast, governmental factions are facing a $1 trillion infrastructure financing gap over the next 30 years. The Great Recession and slow economic recovery have strained the tax revenues of state and local governments, widening the already well-documented infrastructure investment gap. Meaningful federal assistance appears unlikely and will almost certainly fall far short of the estimated $3.6 trillion needed nationwide. Meanwhile, the American Society of Civil Engineers ranks the condition of our infrastructure at a dismal D-plus.
What was the problem?
What is the solution?
Regional collaboration on this scale, to address a problem of this magnitude, is uniquely innovative and ambitious. Performance-based contracting, aligning the incentives of the project owners and contractors, has never been undertaken on this scale. The collaboration of private and non-profit sectors, local, state, national, and international governments, and other stakeholders is unprecedented in addressing an issue of such importance to our ability to move forward towards economic prosperity, resilience, and addressing climate change.
HB 411 requires state projects over $50 million to be screened for their potential innovative financing and design – the first such requirement of its kind in the United
States. This screening step will be managed by the State Treasurer’s office.
The West Coast Infrastructure Exchange ushers shovel-ready projects to fruition. By aggregating projects and coordinating expertise and resources across the region there’s the chance to share experiences, expertise, and connect with the best ways to deliver better value to taxpayers and investors. If big enough, the world financial markets might take notice and provide the capital needed to address the financing gap.
The WCX has already emerged as a leading example of innovation in infrastructure procurement and finance and has attracted interest from a wide range of stakeholders in the public, private and non-profit sectors. The interest, investment, and collaboration among stakeholders - including labor, private industry, financing entities, and local, state, national, and international governments - proves the value and necessity of the WCX. In Oregon, the legislature has passed, and the Governor has signed legislation, including funding, to support the WCX, its goals, activities, and outcomes. Continued efforts for funding, education, and attracting the support of a wide range of players will enhance the success and reach of WCX.
In its first year, WCX:
• Convened hundreds of stakeholders and experts to reach consensus on solutions,
• Developed project standards for public-private partnerships,
• Launched a water finance innovation initiative with the US EPA, USDA, Clinton Global Initiative and private sector partners, and
• Secured commitments from our 3 Governors to pursue pilot projects with the WCX.