Cities Lead During Infrastructure Week 2015
"Cities are economic engines, and right now our engines ought to be racing. We hope that Members of Congress will understand our participation as a message that when they are finally ready to solve these seemingly intractable challenges to funding our nation's infrastructure, we will have their backs through the tough votes, and we will stand with them in our own hometowns."
-NLC President Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, speaking at the Kickoff of Infrastructure Week 2015 Advocacy Day
NLC President Ralph Becker led a strike force of local officials into Washington for Infrastructure Week 2015, an annual event that brings together business, labor, and elected officials to highlight the critical importance of investing in and modernizing America's infrastructure systems, and the essential role infrastructure plays in our economy. Among local officials joining Mayor Becker in Washington were the Chairs of four NLC Policy and Advocacy Committee's: Alderman Bob Bauman, Milwaukee, Wis., (Transportation and Infrastructure Services); Mayor Cindy Lerner, Pinecrest, Fla., (Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources); Council Member Mike Wojcik, Rochester, Minn., (Community and Economic Development); and Jeff Moore, Longmont, Colo., (Information Technology and Communications), and Mayor Edna Branch Jackson, Savannah, Ga.
Throughout the week, city leaders raised their voices in calling for federal infrastructure investments at press conferences, meetings and briefings on Capitol Hill, as well as through social media and in webinars. Importantly, each activity provided an opportunity for local officials and NLC to advocate for our top legislative priorities, including transportation funding and the tax-exemption for municipal bonds.
Briefings and Webinars
On Monday, May 11, NLC 2nd VP Matt Zone, Council Member, Cleveland, Ohio moderated a forum on Solving the Infrastructure Crisis Through Public-Private Partnerships.
On Tuesday, May 12, NLC Community and Economic Development Chair Mike Wojcik, Council Member, Rochester, Minn., joined elected leaders from the National Association of Counties and the Council of State Governments in a Capitol Hill hearing room for a panel discussion on the innovative ways states and local communities are meeting transportation infrastructure needs and to call for immediate congressional action a new transportation bill.
On Wednesday, May 13, NLC President Ralph Becker joined former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and other dignitaries from business and labor organizations who delivered a unified message to Congress on the urgency of solving the federal funding gap for infrastructure maintenance and construction.
Also on Wednesday, May 13, Mayor Becker joined with New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and mayors from the across the country to advocate for increased long-term transportation funding that directs more funds to cities and their regions.
The day closed with NLC Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Bob Bauman serving as a panelist for a Capitol Hill briefing on how transit investments affect the nation's competitiveness. Other panelists included the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
On Thursday, May 12, and Friday, May 13, NLC concluded Infrastructure Week with a pair of Webinars: Exploring Local Broadband Initiatives with Robert Wack, City Council President, Westminster, Md. and Innovative Approaches to Infrastructure Funding with Mayor Emmett Jordan, Greenbelt, Md.
Lastly, under the hashtag #RebuildRenew, NLC's message was amplified through social media, on twitter and facebook. NLC's facebook page also hosted short videos from staff and local officials including TIS Committee Vice Chair Patrick Wojahn, Council Member, College Park, MD; NLC CED Program Director Mike Wallace; and NLC Senior Associate for Infrastructure Nicole DuPuis.