It’s Time To Tackle Our Infrastructure Challenge
Randy Wolken, President & CEO
The United States has woefully underinvested in our infrastructure for decades. MACNY agrees with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and many other business groups that now is the time to invest in our future.
According to NAM:
“[The] data reveals that underinvestment in U.S. infrastructure worsens by the year, and infrastructure investment is only one-third of what it was in 1960. As a result, more than 54,000 bridges across the United States are rated ‘structurally deficient,’ and a majority of our roadway are in less than good condition. Ports and waterways are in disrepair, airports and runways are clogged and congested. But it’s not just transportation infrastructure that needs an upgrade to accommodate a 21st-century manufacturing economy. We need improvements to our water, energy and digital infrastructure as well. It’s unacceptable that America’s infrastructure continues to receive a D+ grade. Now is the time to deliver transformational advancements to the infrastructure that connects our communities and facilitates free enterprise.”1
But we must go beyond our physical infrastructure, we need to invest in the next generation of technology. MACNY fully supports Senator Schumer and his bi-partisan Endless Frontier Act. In a press release from May 2020, Senator Schumer explains his proposal to, “[expand] the National Science Foundation (NSF)—to be renamed the National Science and Technology Foundation (NTSF)—and the establishment of a Technology Directorate within NTSF to advance technology in 10 critical focus areas.”2
According to the Senator:
“The newly-established Technology Directorate would receive $100 billion over five years to lead investment and research in artificial intelligence and machine learning; high performance computing; robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing; quantum computing; cybersecurity; biotechnology; semiconductors; and more. An additional $10 billion would be authorized to designate at least 10 regional technology hubs, awarding funds for comprehensive investment initiatives that position regions across the country to be global centers for the research, development, and manufacturing of key technologies.”3
One critical area for investment that will help manufacturing and technology is our data and communications infrastructure. In NAM’s February 2019 Building to Win report, they cite an Accenture report showing that next-generation wireless technology could “create 3 million new jobs and boost annual GDP by $500 billion, driven by a projected $275 billion investment from telecom operators.”4 They also stated that “5G will power new innovations from autonomous vehicles and smart city technologies to precision manufacturing and agriculture. Improved processing speeds and increased wireless capacity with 5G will lead to advancements in data-heavy tasks, like those associated with connected devices and artificial intelligence.”5
MACNY believes that smart public and private sector investments in highways, bridges, aviation, ports and inland waterways, and emerging technologies will allow the U.S. economy to thrive in the 21st Century. We also believe that if we fail to invest in these critical areas the U.S. will fall behind surging economies like China. We can ill afford to let this happen.
2, 3 https://www.schumer.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/with-the-support-of-new-yorks-leading-tech-innovators-schumer-announces-bipartisan-endless-frontier-act-bolstering-us-leadership-in-scientific-research-and-innovation-dramatically-increase-investment-in-building-new-tech-hubs-in-upstate-ny)