The recent reveal of President Biden’s $2 trillion federal infrastructure package has many around the nation talking about infrastructure. While the NC Chamber focuses the bulk of our advocacy on state-level policy, and the President’s plan appears to contain a mixed bag of classic infrastructure spending and proposals aimed further afield, we are encouraged to see discussions underway at the federal level to prioritize investments in American infrastructure.
Here in North Carolina, the Chamber has long supported a forward-thinking, strategic approach to infrastructure development. On this front, we’ve made substantial progress as a state. We still have work to do, however, to adopt a fully modernized mindset that will enable us to achieve the infrastructure solutions we’ll need to secure our post-pandemic recovery and sustain our success well into the 21st century and beyond.
As North Carolina continues to make progress against the direct health challenges of COVID-19, we have noticed a growing willingness among state leaders to reassess longstanding policy questions that have gone unanswered for far too long. High atop this list in importance: How can we build new models to support the development of critical infrastructure networks in a world where the old models are no longer adequate?
Here’s how the Chamber is working within our current environment to help answer this tough question and nurture a modern approach to infrastructure development in North Carolina:
- Supporting a modernized funding structure for state-managed transportation projects: As driving patterns change and more consumers embrace electric vehicles, the ineffectiveness of the motor fuels tax to generate adequate transportation revenue is a problem that grows worse with each passing year. Damage from historic storms, delayed projects, and COVID-19 have only compounded this problem. With a well-funded, well-maintained transportation network vital to our economic recovery from the pandemic, advancing sustainable funding solutions with the help of our partners on the Destination 2030 Coalition will continue to be a major focal area for the Chamber throughout 2021 and in future legislative sessions.
(This recent coverage from ABC11 explores North Carolina’s challenges with transportation infrastructure, including insights from NC Chamber Director of Government Affairs Mark Coggins and other leaders from the Destination 2030 Coalition.)
- Championing a commonsense approach to broadband development: Remote work and learning are here to stay, at least as options providing more flexibility for job creators, workers, educators, and students, which means a reliable broadband connection is more vital than ever for most North Carolinians. Here, the Chamber is focused on strengthening grant programs for broadband development, broadening access to digital devices, improving broadband affordability and adoption, enhancing availability in unserved areas, and preventing regulators and permitting agencies from unfairly and unnecessarily competing with private providers.
- Promoting a forward-thinking, “all-of-the-above” energy strategy: Texas’ recent energy crisis has put the reliability of energy at the forefront of policy discussions. North Carolina’s grid is in capable hands, and the NC Chamber is continuing to work with our partners to advance a strategy that makes the most competitive, most environmentally responsible use of available resources. We’re focused on improving access to all forms of energy, including renewables, to empower our state and its businesses to meet our clean energy goals while ensuring energy remains affordable, equitable, and reliable through support for grid modernization and the balanced deployment of traditional generation resources.
- Advocating for recommendations outlined in the NC Chamber Foundation’s water and regulatory competitiveness studies: To remain globally competitive, it is vital that we continually refine our strategies to ensure an equitable, sustainable, economically sensible water supply across North Carolina and support a regulatory landscape that promotes a healthy environment while enabling businesses to grow. To achieve these goals, the Chamber is focused on advancing the balanced recommendations outlined in these studies from the NC Chamber Foundation.
If you’re thinking there’s a lot we’re focused on in the infrastructure space, you’re right – and that’s because well-funded, well-managed, and well-maintained infrastructure networks provide the physical backbone ensuring our success as a state.
To stay on top of our progress on these priorities, be sure to join us virtually for our upcoming Government Affairs Summit (April 19 – standard ticket sales through April 13, late ticket sales through April 15), Energy Summit (May 11 – early-bird pricing runs through April 27), and Transportation and Infrastructure Summit (July 28 – registration opens soon).