Local Infrastructure Projects Ready-To-Go, US Mayors Say

MainStreet Economic Recovery

U.S. Conference of Mayors President Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, today called for local infrastructure projects to headline a MainStreet Recovery plan during the first 100 days of the new federal Administration.

The four powerful mayors called a press conference on Capitol Hill. Included in the press conference were House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chair Charlie Rangel, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair James Oberstar and several other mayors.

The group compiled another report containing an inventory of local ‘ready-to-go’ infrastructure projects. These are projects that could be used to jumpstart the sluggish economy and provide many needed jobs. Each project is specifically chosen because it can be completed within two calendar years, providing the federal government allocates funding.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors requested submissions from cities in all regions of the country. More than four hundred cities responded with suggestions for projects across ten different sectors. Those sectors include Community Development Block Grants, transit, highway infrastructure, green jobs, school modernization, public safety and public housing.

Project listings are available at the U.S. Conference of Mayors website.

The Mayors U.S. Conference of Mayors says the most direct path to creating jobs and stimulating business is to invest in MainStreet metropolitan economies. These economies drive the national economy forward because they make up 90% of U.S. GDP.

This is the second report provided by the Conference of Mayors. Thanks to data from 427 cities, the Conference shows that $73 billion in federal funding would create 847,641 jobs in 11,391 infrastructure projects.

“We stand ready to help President Elect Obama and the Congress create sustainable jobs that fix our crumbling infrastructure and promote energy independence,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors President Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.

One problem with federal funding is that it often gets held up in the bureaucracy. Tje Mayors urge the new president not to allow that to happen. Mayor Diaz said that to make the infrastructure projects really work to get the economy moving .” .. we must make sure that the funding is spent quickly, and not stuck in federal or state bureaucracies.”

Mayor Diaz said that he was not happy with the previous top-down approach in federal spending.

Manny Diaz, Miama Mayor calls for Local Infrastructure Projects.
Manny Diaz, Miama Mayor.

“Washington has bailed out Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion and hopes its investment will eventually be returned to the taxpayer. But our survey shows that cities are ‘ready-to-go’ with infrastructure projects that will immediately employ people, support small businesses, and stimulate mainstreet economies. These are real jobs that will bring a guaranteed return on a federal investment in local economies,” Diaz said.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “A year ago, when the nation’s Mayors started talking about infrastructure it was not being discussed around kitchen tables in New York City or anywhere else in our country. Today, it’s seen as a real way to grow the economy because this kind of stimulus is not a one-shot deal. In fact, monies invested through programs like infrastructure generate $1.50 or more per dollar spent. That’s a welcome figure for anyone concerned about balancing a budget, making a payroll, funding needed services or any combination of the three. And Charlie Rangel understands that and is working to help Mayors and the cities they lead get started now. Every city here has projects that are ready to move – projects that have been vetted locally, funded locally and will employ locally. Stimulating the economy in this way will not only leave a valuable asset behind, but will spur real growth.”

New York Democrat Congressman, Charlie Rangel, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, supports the mayors’ approach. Rangel said, “When Congress develops a stimulus plan, it is very important we do not forget the very hard times our cities are having meeting the needs of their residents. That is why I am meeting the Mayors of several of our major cities to make sure urban needs are addressed.”

Conference CEO Tom Cochran is concerned about the rate of increase of unemployment. “As the unemployment numbers show, the job situation is dire and getting significantly worse. As each month passes, we are reminded of the rapid deterioration of the long-term job outlook for Americans. Our metropolitan economies desperately need help at the Main Street level, and the mayors’ MainStreet Recovery plan is the answer.”

The first mayors’ report came after a survey of 153 cities, in which they were asked about local ‘ready-to-go’ projects. That report, released on Nov. 14, identified 4,645 infrastructure projects would create 261,652 jobs in metro areas, costing $25 billion in funding.

The work of the Mayors Conference is not over yet. Diaz said they plan to continue the effort to gather information from more cities around the country on their ‘ready-to-go’ jobs projects.

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start hammering away on the keyboard.

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