Investing in local infrastructure key to increasing prosperity in Rhode Island

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Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank highlighted wastewater infrastructure projects in Warwick and East Greenwich on Friday, May 18. These events marked the end of a weeklong series of events highlighting local infrastructure projects financed by the Infrastructure Bank.

Robust, well-maintained infrastructure is the foundation for a thriving economy. We strategically develop programs at Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank linking affordable financing with Rhode Island’s infrastructure needs to ensure economic growth, create jobs, and protect our environment.

While touring US Extruders in Westerly recently, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner asked – how can a small-scale manufacturing company succeed against larger competitors in a global market? US Extruders pointed to a lifetime energy savings of $1.1 million from its rooftop solar array financed through our Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program (C-PACE). C-PACE is one way that we are working to help Rhode Island’s small businesses compete.

My Westerly trip reminded me of working in my father’s factory near Detroit as a young adult, where I grasped the challenges of trying to compete on a global scale. I watched him struggle to keep the factory afloat while fending off fierce competition from factories in Asia. Now, as CEO of the Infrastructure Bank I realize that the work we do is one effective way to help our economy compete globally, while also helping local businesses grow and ensuring stability for municipal governments.

Local infrastructure is essential to our civic life and economy. Maintaining and enhancing infrastructure is our civic duty to Rhode Island and in our best interest as citizens. The Infrastructure Bank recently joined nearly 400 organizations around the country as an affiliate of Infrastructure Week, a national non-profit focused on infrastructure education and advocacy, to highlight Rhode Island’s many infrastructure achievements and opportunities. The Infrastructure Bank led 20 events throughout the State from May 14 – 18.We showcased 15 project sites that benefited from Infrastructure Bank programs and hosted roundtables with over 40 municipal and nonprofit executives, as well as governmental representatives.

In its nearly 30-year history, the Infrastructure Bank has financed over $2 billion for drinking water improvements, storm water management, bridge maintenance and energy efficiency promotion. We have ramped up our efforts in recent years due to the work of Governor Raimondo, the General Treasurer and the General Assembly to transition the R.I. Clean Water Finance Agency into the Infrastructure Bank. Our investments have led to the creation and support of more than 57,000 Rhode Island jobs. We have also helped local governments save over $50 million through clean energy projects and financing and reduced greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of removing more than 3,500 cars from the roads.

Here in Kent County, we have invested over $410.9 million in water, transportation, and energy infrastructure over the past three decades. 

In addition to being the State’s central hub for infrastructure financing, the Infrastructure Bank is a force of economic stability for Rhode Island. We consistently place first in the country for effectively combining private capital investment with limited public dollars. Our Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund offers loans for investments in sewer pipes, wastewater treatment plants, rain gardens and septic systems, successfully leveraging over four dollars of private capital for every dollar of federal funds provided to us.

Such investments benefit all Rhode Islanders, contributing to a stronger economy, greater job creation and a cleaner environment. We’re excited to have shared this vision with other Rhode Islanders during Infrastructure Week.

We look forward to continuing this important work alongside State agencies, cities and town, businesses, non-profits and homeowners. Our collective efforts will be influential in shaping the State’s economy for years to come.

Jeffrey Diehl is the CEO and executive director of Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank.

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