Enterprising States 2013 Report: Top Performers in Infrastructure
This article is part of a series on Enterprising States, a study produced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The study, along with a accompanying Enterprising States Dashboard, was released at the U.S. Chamber's annual America’s Small Business Summit, April 29, 2013. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see posts about the report's four other policy areas of focus.
Infrastructure provides the critical foundation for state economies and commerce. Research by the U.S. Chamber’s Transportation Performance Index Project shows that infrastructure performance is directly related to economic growth. Recognizing this, many states are making strategic investments in the facilities and roads needed to move goods, such as the major investments to deepen ports on the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts to serve manufacturers in southeastern states. These investments are future-oriented, as infrastructure performance is a leading indicator that sometimes takes years to pay off in measurable economic growth.
Broadband data access is becoming an increasingly important factor to support state and regional economic performance. A 2012 Boston Consulting Group report found that the Internet accounted for 4.7% of all U.S. economic activity in 2010, more than the federal government. On top of that 4.7% (which includes e-commerce, usage fees, and business investment), broadband infrastructure indirectly supports business activity in virtually every industry.
Rural areas of many states still lag in broadband deployment. Large states—especially in the American West—generally did poorest on Enterprising States broadband measures. Research shows that rural communities with greater broadband access grew fastest
The top infrastructure states are determined by a combination of four metrics weighed equally:
- Broadband capacity: share of households with 25-megabit download speed available
- Broadband availability: share of households with five or more providers available
- Road quality
- Share of bridges determined to be deficient or obsolete
The following states were ranked as the top 10 infrastructure states for 2012:
- Florida. Florida ranks in the top 10 for all four infrastructure metrics. In 2012, the state created an Office of Freight Logistics and Passenger Operations to ensure that new and existing infrastructure is being planned and coordinated to allow the optimal movement of freight, supporting economic expansion and transport efficiency.
- Nevada. Nevada ranks 2nd overall for infrastructure, highlighted by a 3rd-place ranking in bridge quality and 7th place for household access to multiple broadband providers. The state is in the process of launching a $1.8 billion initiative to expand and improve highways in the Las Vegas area.
- Illinois. Already a strong performer in broadband infrastructure, the state is making broadband a significant part of its business attraction strategy. The $6 million Illinois Gigabit Communities Challenge, a competition launched by Governor Pat Quinn, will award funding to the most promising ultra-high-speed broadband deployment projects in the state.
- Utah. Utah ranks 16th or better in every infrastructure category, including a 5th-place ranking in bridge quality. Access to high-speed data connections helps support high-tech industry in the Silicon Slopes. Utah ranks 13th in both broadband measures.
- Arizona. Still a fast-growing state, Arizona has the 2nd-best bridge quality in the nation and ranks in the top 20 on all four infrastructure measures. In 2012, the state created the Arizona Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance, a panel of experts on energy, transportation, and trade from throughout the state to facilitate public-private partnerships to develop infrastructure.
- Minnesota. While it may be known for the tragic Interstate 35 bridge collapse in 2007, Minnesota has the lowest share of structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges. The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband recently released a set of policy recommendations to improve deployment across the state, including targeted tax credits, expanded public access, more coordination efforts, and allowing broadband conduit to be installed in concert with highway projects.
- Colorado. Colorado ranks 8th in bridge quality and in the top 25 on all four infrastructure measures. The state is collecting transportation and other policy ideas from citizens and the business community via a nonpartisan public engagement effort called TBD (To Be Determined) Colorado.
- Oregon. Oregon is a top broadband state. It ranks 8th in households with access to 25 Mbps download speeds and 9th in households served by at least five broadband providers. The Oregon Infrastructure Finance Authority works with partners at all levels of government to identify economically vital infrastructure investments, making use of a variety of state-created revolving and special loan funds.
- Georgia. Georgia’s strategic location in the southeastern corner of the nation has positioned it as a global hub, with the 4th-largest port in the nation and one of the busiest airports in the world. The Peach State is number 1 in road quality and number 12 in bridge quality. Georgia is investing aggressively to deepen the Savannah Harbor to 47 feet to prepare for a new class of container ships that have nearly three times the capacity of those currently able to transit the Panama Canal.
- Ohio. Top 20 rankings in three of four infrastructure measures place Ohio at number 10 overall. The state ranks 17th in road quality and 26th in bridge quality, and legislators hope to keep pace with the growing energy economy by passing a $7 billion infrastructure investment bill.