OP-ED: The time is right for an infrastructure bill

By L. Michael Ross

2021 stands to be year of transition. With the roll out of Covid vaccines, I am confident that we will transition to a post-covid economy, which I believe will be “V” shaped, not only here in the Cumberland Valley but nationally.

The United States is the epicenter for global investment, however to accommodate and manage the anticipated growth, the first order of business of the 117th Congress is passage of a comprehensive infrastructure bill.

Candidly, support for infrastructure legislation should be bi-partisan given that an INVESTMENT in our future is the best long-term response to COVID.

Infrastructure is the genesis of economic development.  We desperately need to invest in our transportation networks to include highways (think I-81), rail, and our ports-both air and sea.  We need to upgrade and better securitize our electric grid; and we need investments to assure our future water supplies as well as sewer capacities. 

The one thing that COVID has clearly exposed is the disparity in broadband technology. Rural America needs to be able to compete, and for that to happen the broadband network has to be improved. 

We have seen this as our schools have been forced online and have struggled to consistently and efficiently deliver educational content. 

Many employers have faced similar challenges trying to have their employees work remotely…they simply don’t have high speed internet availability. 

This is highly problematic and needs to be addressed ASAP.  

Not only will an infrastructure bill create the opportunity to widen I-81 in Franklin County, but Franklin County is fortunate to be home to the companies that build the equipment that builds the infrastructure.  Think Volvo Construction Equipment, Manitowoc Crane Group, or JLG Industries, and their suppliers, such as D. L. Martin, APX Enclosures, Vetter Forks and Burnside Autocyl to name but a small sample.  An infrastructure bill would be an economic boon to Franklin County.  

Congress has found trillions of dollars in response to COVID impacts nationally and globally.  Now is the time for Congress to finally INVEST in our future.  I strongly encourage anyone reading this to consider reaching out to your congressional representative to include Senators Casey and Toomey and enlist their support to pass infrastructure legislation. 

L. Michael Ross is president of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation.