WBJ: ‘Smart Infrastructure’ Investment Urged For N.E.
As originally appearing in The Worcester Business Journal

By Rick Saia

The New England Council and global consulting firm Deloitte has urged both the private and public sectors to invest in a modern infrastructure that can support economic growth throughout the region as well as global competitiveness.

The two organizations released a report today that suggests four steps “to build a 21st century infrastructure that can enable economic growth and prosperity.” Those steps include:

  • Exploiting New England’s structural advantages to achieve a responsive supply chain, operating at lower cost with less congestion, by taking advantage of lower cost “home-shoring” sub-regions that can support dominant industries.
  • Connecting regional networks and industry clusters to leverage their inherent economies with the appropriate infrastructure technology and management.
  • Developing workforce skills in a “learnings with earnings” collaboration, following a new apprenticeship model that can bring together the interests of business, education and government. The report especially touted Worcester Technical High School’s partnerships with more than 15 area businesses as an example of how education and the private sector can work together to help prepare students for technical careers.
  • Financing strategic opportunities creatively, using a range of innovative options to match affordability with productivity and speed to market.

“We hope that this report serves as a starting point for a broader discussion among public and private sector stakeholders about how we invest in smart infrastructure that can promote economic growth here in New England,” said James T. Brett, president and CEO of The New England Council. “The report presents a variety of innovative ideas and demonstrated strategies for addressing our region’s infrastructure challenges and positioning New England to compete in the global economy.”

“Infrastructure can be a lot more than canals, railroads, highways and aviation,” added Michael Reopel of Deloitte Consulting LLP. “Today’s infrastructure should be ‘smart’ and connect the region through transportation, energy, communications, education and economic assets.”

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