5 Ways It Will Help Your Business : The U.S. Senate is currently considering the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (BID). There has been a great deal of negotiation to get to this point and we now have a bill that invests $550 billion directly in new spending on the country’s future and supports and empowers entrepreneurship. In a recent conversation with small business owners, Vice President Kamala Harris said, “Our infrastructure as a nation needs an upgrade. The Bipartisan Infrastructure deal for that reason is, we believe, historic because it will make a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure, positioning our small businesses to compete in the 21st Century,”
It is critical that Congress moves forward with passing this legislation. In a day and age where it is hard to find consensus, this deal has broad support both politically and across the private sector. Just recently, 140 business leaders signed a joint letter touting the framework’s incorporation of “priorities shared by labor, business and state and local governments, as well as the American people” and urging Senate leadership to pass the legislation. These voices add to a diverse and still growing coalition pushing lawmakers to act.
“Our letter is a plea to put the interests of the country ahead of partisan politics,” said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City. “If our federal government cannot reach bipartisan agreement on something as straightforward as modernization of the nation’s aging and inadequate infrastructure, what are the prospects for solving far more controversial issues that lie ahead?”
Labor and business have also joined forces to push for this cause through the Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment, whose partners range from AFL-CIO to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In addition to these groups, we’ve seen an outpouring of support from the small business community. As the Small Business Roundtable shared in a statement, “This bipartisan framework shows that it is possible to work across the aisle to build better roads, bridges, transit, and rail to benefit Americans across the nation and enable them to return to work.” In fact, business leaders see it as an imperative to remain competitive.
I recently wrote about how the American Jobs Plan would benefit small businesses. While the legislative landscape has changed with the agreement on the infrastructure package, the BID will also help small businesses. Here are five ways it will.
1. Connecting Americans to High-Speed Internet
Covid-19 prompted many small businesses to either shift to or incorporate a digital component to their operations. It also exposed how millions of Americans do not have access to reliable internet. More than 30 million Americans live in areas without the broadband infrastructure to provide acceptable speeds, particularly in rural communities. The BID invests in broadband infrastructure to connect every American to high-speed internet and there is precedent for this. During the Great Depression, it became clear that Americans without access to electricity were falling behind so the federal government made a historic effort to provide it to every American.
2. Upgrading our Power Infrastructure
Recent power outages across the country have caused a great deal of damage and disrupted economies. The infrastructure proposal will spend more than $70 billion to build thousands of miles of new transmission lines and create a new Grid Authority to mitigate these types of challenges.
3. Modernizing and Expanding Transit
The package makes the largest federal investment in public transit in history by modernizing and expanding transit and rail networks across the country. This will help ease the burden of travel for small business owners and their employees and connect Main Streets across the country. It will also create a more inclusive economy. As Jill Houghton, President and CEO of Disability:IN, notes, “Provisions in this deal would improve the lives of disabled Americans including a focus on a more sustainable economy, a much needed upgrade of public transit systems across the country, and a more competitive marketplace for business disability inclusion.”
4. Repairing and Rebuilding Roads and Bridges
In addition to modernizing our railways, the BID also commits $110 billion to repairing and rebuilding our roads and bridges with the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. This commitment will also focus on ensuring equity and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians, which are a hallmark of all vibrant Main Streets.
5. Eliminating Lead Service Lines and Pipes
More than 10 million American families and more than 400,000 schools and child care facilities currently do not have clean drinking water, including in Tribal nations and disadvantaged areas. These poor living conditions destroy lives and communities, as well as close off most paths to entrepreneurship. The plan invests $55 billion in clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure by removing lead service lines and pipes.
This package recognizes that our country is strongest when all of its communities and Main Streets are thriving and invests in strengthening both. Congress should pass it immediately and then focus on the rest of the Build Back Better agenda. While this package will be a huge step forward for our country — the largest investment of our generation — we have more to do to make sure our country is on track, including supporting families and working caregivers. Congress should consider both the BID and the Build Back Better plan because they support physical and human infrastructure.