Companies call for U.S. Leadership on Infrastructure to Create Jobs in America

Apr 13, 2011

Yesterday another weapon was added to the arsenal of those fighting for improving the performance of U.S. infrastructure and preparing for the economy of the future.  A new paper from the Organization for International Investment (OFII) “highlights the important role modernized, world-class infrastructure plays in attracting global companies to the United States.”  It also makes clear that now is not the time for Americans to assume that the U.S. will be #1 when it comes to the kinds of systems that make businesses work efficiently and create a competitive advantage in the global economy.  In fact, the U.S. can learn from global best practices in funding, building and operating infrastructure in order to rebuild our infrastructure and create globally competitive jobs.

OFII is made up of a lot of companies that you probably recognize:  Siemens, Michelin, Daimler Trucks North America, BASF (Does anyone beside me remember cassette tapes? I always remember mine saying “BASF.”)....  These are global companies that create American jobs directly or through U.S. subsidiaries.  They’ve chosen the U.S. for manufacturing or services operations (and in some cases even headquarters – Siemens has relocated its HQ to Washington, DC).  OFII’s paper uses relatable examples to illustrate the statement, “Infrastructure investment creates jobs,” by telling some stories of how businesses located and hired people in the U.S. because infrastructure gave them what was needed to thrive and grow. 

But as the paper, written by Dartmouth Professor and OFII outside advisor, Matthew Slaughter, makes clear:  America’s infrastructure crisis is threatening America’s global competitiveness because it is eroding the country’s ability to attract and retain dynamic global companies that create high-productivity, high-wage jobs.  America’s ability to meet the infrastructure needs of dynamic global companies increasingly lags the ability of many other countries—in contrast to much of 20th century, when America’s infrastructure was a strong pull attracting these companies.

So what should be done?  Paraphrasing from “Building Competitiveness:”

First, recognize that infrastructure is a key part of the global competitiveness challenge.  “Across all issues—infrastructure and otherwise—American policymakers should focus on America’s ability to create globally competitive, high-productivity, good-paying jobs.”  (Thanks, OFII, for making the case so articulately!)

Second, look to apply best practices from around the world in infrastructure investment and innovation, including “expanding public private partnerships to bring much needed capital, innovative products and managerial expertise to public infrastructure projects…invite private capital to support projects that can generate economic returns… and make sure the infrastructure works as efficiently as possible.”

For more specifics, I encourage you to download the paper – and then come back here to ChamberPost and tell us what you think of what you’ve read.  If you’re a company that make a location decision based on infrastructure, tell us that, too.


“Building Competitiveness: American Jobs, American Infrastructure, American Global Competitiveness”

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