“I want him to think big,” Brown said. “I think small ball is not working now for this country. Thinking big means major infrastructure investments. That’s also school modernization, a real need in this country. When I drive around the state in small towns and large cities there’s still far too many antiquated and not even serviceable school buildings where kids can’t learn as well.” Brown said he also wants the president to look at trade policy, which he sees as a job producer.
Brown said the president will talk about an infrastructure bank.
“It is likely he will call for new infrastructure investments that will make a difference in job creation, both in jobs for those people building infrastructure and leading to job creation because of better infrastructure whether it’s broadband, water, sewer, highways, bridges, ports, all of that,” Brown said.
Brown said he has been hearing at roundtable discussions with community and business leaders that the nation’s infrastructure is not what it used to be or needs to be. He said rebuilding the infrastructure attracts workers, businesses and foreign investment, and essentially creates jobs for those building the infrastructure.
“Businesses are more likely to come into a community that has reliable transportation, water, sewer, broadband, all of those things,” Brown said. “And we know what it does to the retail outlets, restaurants and grocery stores that surround these structures. Every $1 billion invested in highway infrastructure produces about 35,000 jobs.”
He said those projects could include wastewater and sewer projects.
The Portsmouth Daily Times asked Brown if that funding could have an effect on the current Portsmouth Long Term Control Plan to fix the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) problem that has resulted in flooding in recent years.
“It could be. We don’t know,” Brown said. “There will be no bridges to nowhere. No earmarks in this. There are three bars, criteria that must be met.”
Brown said projects would be required to have regional or national significance.
“A project dealing with the river could fall into that,” Brown said.
The second criteria is that the project has to promote economic growth.
“Not just something to build to put people to work,” Brown said.
The third criteria is that there would have to be a leveraging of state, federal and private financing.
“At the same time it could affect Scioto County and Portsmouth and your region,” Brown said. “At the same time we’re also working on Combined Sewer Overflow, the CSO legislation, which may not sound very exciting. But Combined Sewer Overflow is a huge issue because you hear the EPA saying, ‘You’ve got to do better’ because we want to make sure we have safe drinking water, reliable water for manufacturing, and at the same time they need local help because of paying for CSO locally. Some $6 billion is what we’re working on for Ohio. Local communities can’t pay that much more for their water and sewer than what they are paying for their water bills.”
Brown said those who receive financing from a national infrastructure bank must show the ability to repay the loan over no more than 35 years, and would be made up of private/public partnerships.
In the meantime, Gov. John Kasich has sent a letter to Obama saying the citizens of Ohio are waiting for his job proposals.
“Although Ohio is now creating jobs, our unemployment rate remains too high, particularly in hard-hit areas such as southern Ohio where the rate in some counties is near 15 percent,” Kasich said. “We are looking for innovative and common sense solutions to create jobs today. My JobsOhio program is a unique partnership that encourages job creators to grow and invest now. We believe that the kind of investment needed to sustain growth into the future will come from the private sector.”
Kasich then reiterated a call for the president to give the nod to the $2 billion loan guarantee for Piketon.
“As you are developing your jobs plan, I remind you of a project in Ohio that stands ready to create thousands of jobs within months of your approval,” Kasich said. “The American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon is an advanced uranium enrichment facility that holds great promise for economic development and job creation in southern Ohio. I understand the project is in the final stages of consideration. It should be approved immediately.“
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or firstname.lastname@example.org.