Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: CAP’s Hendricks and Cooper on Meeting with City Mayors Discussing Job-creating Urban Infrastructure Banks
Press Statement

STATEMENT: CAP’s Hendricks and Cooper on Meeting with City Mayors Discussing Job-creating Urban Infrastructure Banks

CAP Partners with CGI and Rockfeller Brothers Fund to Find Innovative Solutions to Address Infrastructure Investment

Tarrytown, NY Former President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, in partnership with the Center for American Progress and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, this week convened a meeting with seven U.S. mayors and the representatives of 15 cities in Tarrytown, New York, at the Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The group discussed strategies for attracting the much-needed private investment to build job creating public infrastructure projects in cities across the country.

The Center for American Progress today issued the following statements from CAP Senior Fellows Bracken Hendricks and Donna Cooper on the meeting and the need for continued high-level discussions to determine the best way to proceed in addressing America’s urban infrastructure challenges:

"With an urgent need for family-supporting jobs in America today and historically low interest rates, investment in critically needed infrastructure projects is an essential strategy for making our economy stronger and more competitive globally,” said Bracken Hendricks, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “President Clinton and this bipartisan group of city leaders understand that investing in the infrastructure that supports jobs and growth is the smartest and most direct path to economic recovery. In this meeting we are demonstrating that financial innovation can put Americans back on the job right now, repowering our energy grid, speeding communications networks, and modernizing transportation, ports, and rail systems nationwide. We need to be smart about how we fund these programs, but there is no excuse for delay. This group of leaders has shown that working together mayors, investors, and federal policymakers can take on the most pressing challenges facing our economy.

"The Obama administration succeeded in getting Congress to agree to increase federal loans for infrastructure from $20 billion to $170 billion through 2014," said Donna Cooper, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. "This meeting set the stage for mayors to take the lead in putting innovative models to work that can tap these low-interest loans and help pay for rebuilding or developing the rail, transit, roads, bridges, and water systems needed to support their local growth. These mayors are on the front lines and know that with limited federal, state, and local funds, new partners must be brought to the table, including unions, pension investors, private investors, and regional leaders. They get that doing so will be essential to putting their residents to work and improving their local economy for the short and long terms.

After opening the two-day meeting with a discussion led by President Clinton, mayors and city leaders discussed the current fiscal challenges to investment in public infrastructure, compared existing models of leveraging private capital for investment in public infrastructure, identified investable projects, and contemplated the steps involved in creating urban infrastructure banks, modeled after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuels’s Infrastructure Trust—a nonprofit entity designed to attract private capital for infrastructure investment—and adapted to other cities across the country.

Participants at today’s meeting include Asheville Mayor Terry M. Bellamy, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert Kean, and Portland Mayor Sam Adams, as well as high-level city officials from Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Louisville, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, and San Francisco. Also in attendance will be former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and current Vice Chairman at Citigroup, infrastructure experts, and capital advisors such as Nuveen Asset Management and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The gathering follows June’s Clinton Global Initiative America Meeting in Chicago to address the possibility of replicating Mayor Emanuel’s Infrastructure Trust in other cities and his June visit to the Center for American Progress Action Fund, discussing the ways in which his newly created Infrastructure Trust will promote job creation and economic growth in Chicago.

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To speak with CAP experts Bracken Hendricks and Donna Cooper, who attended this meeting, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or [email protected].