WH, Agencies Partner for Infrastructure Programs
Last week, the White House announced that it is partnering with philanthropic, labor and nonprofit organizations to make it easier for smaller cities and counties to apply for funding under the bipartisan infrastructure law. Alongside the announcement, a technical assistance guide was released to better navigate, access and deploy infrastructure investments.
According to the statement, the Biden Administration has identified over $700 million in funding across more than 65 technical assistance programs. Over 90% of bipartisan infrastructure funding will reportedly be deployed by non-federal partners.
Work with the external stakeholders also plans to highlight available nongovernment resources and create a pipeline to assist communities in quickly and equitably accessing funding.
“This technical assistance guide is just one more way we’re working to ensure state, local, Tribal and territorial governments have the tools and resources they need to take advantage of investments in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor & Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator.
“Building a better America requires that we leave no community behind. This guide aims to pull together the many different technical assistance resources available across the federal government that can help communities deliver transformative infrastructure projects.”
Philanthropic, Nonprofit Partnerships
As part of the commitment, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Emerson Collective, Ford Foundation and the Kresge Foundation reportedly launching the Local Infrastructure Hub. The $50 million national program aims to ensure that all U.S. cities and towns can access federal infrastructure funding to drive local recovery, improve communities and deliver results for residents.
“For smaller cities and towns, submitting strong applications for federal infrastructure money is easier said than done, so foundations and city networks are stepping up to help,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th Mayor of New York City. “The Local Infrastructure Hub is a first-of-its-kind resource for local leaders, and its experts will help small towns and cities compete for and win the funds they need to build stronger, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.”
Accelerator for America plans to provide technical assistance, support for strategic planning and grant writing, communications strategy, policy research and guides to navigate funding opportunities. The nonprofit is working directly with 20 cities on infrastructure projects.
Next, the Communities First Infrastructure Alliance is working with technical assistance providers, frontline communities and government leaders to build just, equitable and more resilient communities. To accomplish this, members will provide resources, capacity and technical assistance on community-centered plans and projects.
Funding collaborative What Works Plus (WW+) plans to coordinate efforts across philanthropy, government and nonprofit organizations to advance racial and economic equity. This program is focused on partnerships to better communities, workers and entrepreneurs.
Finally, the Climate Jobs National Resource Center is providing communities with workforce training, including building an equitable, inclusive renewable energy economy by investing in union apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.
The Biden Administration notes it will also welcome additional commitments from nongovernmental stakeholders to support states and local communities access infrastructure funding.
“Technical assistance, especially for smaller communities, is a problem,” said Landrieu in an interview. “We want to make sure they know what's available and how to navigate the system. This isn't just about access, but it's also about project delivery.”
Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
With the goal of rebuilding the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges, as well as funding new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act reportedly serves to deliver a key component in President Joe Biden’s agenda.
The White House also reports that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, alongside the Build Back Framework, will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next ten years.
As potential effects of climate change woe the world, the legislation has recognized that nearly 75% of the nation’s electricity can be accounted for in both its residential and commercial structures, such as housing, stores and offices.
To mitigate the high usage, the Build Better Plan has dedicated roughly $5 billion to various programs aimed at reducing electricity use in buildings, improving building materials and training on design, construction and maintenance for energy-efficient structures.
The bill will also fund a series of problem-solving programs, for issues varying from drafty windows in affordable housing complexes to aged air ducts and outdated building codes.
According to reports, the largest chunk of the $5 billion will be utilized for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which aids structures owned or occupied by people with low incomes. The legislation is expected to provide a $3.5 billion infusion for the program, which will be used to fund upgrades such as insulation, windows, roofing, and heating and cooling devices.
Though seemingly minor, the upgrades are expected to result in sizable energy savings.
Later in November, the White House announced that President Biden named former New Orleans Mayor Landrieu as senior advisor responsible for the implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
At the beginning of the year, Landrieu reached out to state leaders at the beginning of the month encouraging them to appoint their own infrastructure coordinators to implement the $1.2 trillion law.
The three-page letter, sent to all the nation’s governors on Jan. 4, he requested that they appoint a “high-level” representative to serve as the state’s own Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator. Landrieu also reportedly suggested that governors create task forces modeled after the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force created by President Biden in November.
The role of these positions will help integrate aspects of the bill, including funding, alongside departments responsible for transportation, water, broadband and energy investments for projects.
In February, the White House released the first edition of its Bipartisan Infrastructure Law guidebook that contains a comprehensive list of the more than 375 programs and available funding included in the law.
Acting as a “roadmap” for the funding available under the law, as well as an explanatory document that shows direct federal spending at the program level, the 465-page guidebook outlines 12 chapters grouping the programs by area
Of the 375 programs, 125 are new, with 60% of the funds are available through formula and 40% are through competitive applications. Future phases of the guidebook are expected to update dates and timelines for program implementation, best practices, case studies and links to key resources.
In April, the Biden Administration announced that projects funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law will be required to use only iron and steel produced in the United States. The Buy America Act, included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, aims to support the country’s industrial base, protect national security and support jobs.
The requirement went into effect on May 14.
Earlier this month, the Biden-Harris Administration released a new Permitting Action Plan to accelerate federal permitting and environmental reviews for infrastructure projects funded through the bipartisan infrastructure law.
The action plan outlines the strategy to ensure that federal environmental reviews and permitting process are effective, efficient and transparent, while guided by the best available science to promote positive environmental and community outcomes. In turn, it hopes that these steps will help strengthen supply chains, lower costs and grow clean energy.
Additionally, the goal is to deliver long overdue infrastructure investments on task, on time and on budget without delays while promoting environmental goals. The action plan will reportedly result in better permitting outcomes, enhanced predictability for project sponsors and increased accountability.