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Enterprising States Report: Top Performers on Infrastructure

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This article is taken from Enterprising States, a study produced by the National Chamber Foundation. The study was released at the U.S. Chamber's annual Jobs Summit on June 13, 2012.

Infrastructure is the basic foundation upon which economic development and growth is created and sustained. States and cities must continually upgrade their highways, airports, harbors, utility distribution systems, railways, water and sewer systems, and communications networks to keep pace with the requirements of an ever-changing business environment. In our increasingly network-centric, globalized economy, high-quality air service for passengers and freight and high-speed broadband are becoming an essential part of the infrastructure requirements for a 21st century economy.

As state governments seek ways to trim costs and leverage other resources they are taking a hard look at public-private partnerships (PPP) to build, operate and maintain everything from roads to airport terminals. In many states, specific types of infrastructure are being prioritized and incentivized to build or attract highly desirable economic opportunities such as data centers.

The top infrastructure states are determined by a combination of four metrics:

  • Broadband capacity: share of households with 10-megabit download speed available
  • Broadband availability: share of households with three or more providers available
  • Road quality
  • Share of bridges determined to be deficient or obsolete

 

The following states are ranked as the top-10-performing infrastructure states for 2012:

1. Florida – Florida is a clear standout as determined by all of the infrastructure measures used in the rankings. The state ranks no worse than seventh in any infrastructure measure, led by the second-best road quality and the fourth-best availability of high-speed broadband.

2. Nevada – Nevada's bridge infrastructure is among the best in the nation. The highly urbanized state ranks very highly in broadband accessibility, with 97% of its residents having access. The Nevada Broadband Task Force and Connect Nevada are taking steps to increase access for rural populations and Hispanics.

3. Utah – Utah's influx of technology companies and workers has created increasing demand for bandwidth and storage. The state ranks ninth in households with access to at least three broadband providers and fifth in bridge quality.

4. Illinois – Faced with difficult budget conditions, the state of Illinois has embraced public private partnerships as a way to maintain a strong system of infrastructure. Illinois ranks sixth in bridge quality and is in the top 15 in both broadband metrics.

5. Arizona – Arizona ranks third in bridge quality, and no worse than 22nd in any infrastructure metric. The state’s increasing population could put increasing demands on transportation infrastructure and water resources. The Water Infrastructure Finance authority is a bond bank that issues water quality bonds on behalf of communities for basic water infrastructure, an essential ingredient to accommodate growing residential, commercial, and industrial uses.

6. Delaware – Delaware lands in the top 12 in both broadband telecommunications metrics, and the state has increased funding to its transportation trust fund as part of the new “Building Delaware’s Future Fund.” Port infrastructure upgrades at the state’s Port of Wilmington have also received state support.

7. Minnesota – Following the I-35 bridge collapse disaster of 2007, the State of Minnesota committed itself to a $2.1 billion, 10–year, bridge-improvement program. The initiative provides funding to replace or repair more than 120 bridges throughout the state, with around 60 complete by the end of 2011. Bridge investments are paying off, as the state places first in bridge quality in this year’s study.

8. Texas – Texas is a strong performer in all infrastructure measures, landing at no worse than 21st in any metric. The Texas Mobility Fund provides a revolving fund of financing for transportation infrastructure upgrades around the state. In 2012, the fund committed an additional $2 billion in funding to local governments as part of a wider, $4 billion set of infrastructure investments.

9. Georgia – Georgia ranks first in road quality and 12th in bridge quality. Seeking to prepare its port infrastructure for the new classes of ships that will soon be passing through an expanded Panama Canal, Georgia has made port upgrades a priority. The state has invested in excess of $130 million dollars in improvements to the Port of Savannah over the past three years, with an additional $47 million allocated in 2012.

10. Ohio – Ohio ranks at least 24th in each infrastructure metric, led by the nation’s 12th-best access to 10-megabit broadband. In order to improve access to rural areas, the state has launched the Connect Appalachia Broadband initiative, which works with public- and private-sector partners to identify regions of need and coordinate state and private-sector resources to provide service.

This post is also available at Free Enterprise.