WASHINGTON, April 10, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- It's no secret that the United States' pressing infrastructure investment needs are nearing critical mass, and the partisan stalemates that have prevented a number of promising infrastructure bills from moving through Congress haven't been much help to the cause.
After years of political wrangling, the country's massive infrastructure needs may finally be on the verge of getting the much needed assistance that supporters have been coveting. President Barack Obama recently stepped up efforts by calling for Congress to fund new proposals to expand public-private programs to build and repair modern ports, pipelines, schools and other infrastructure.
The President has been pushing for a more complete set of infrastructure proposals for years and even included the message in his State of the Union this past January.
Adding to the recent momentum for infrastructure development, global standards body RICS is hosting an event next week to discuss the challenges and opportunities for public private partnerships (P3) as a viable funding model for hard and soft infrastructure in the U.S.
The event, taking place on April 15 at the National Press Club at 6pm in Washington, DC, will follow RICS' exclusive workshop forum earlier that day at the World Bank for selected international thought-leaders in the P3 space.
This forum, which is part of RICS' ongoing research in global P3, is designed to have experts share insight and identify critical points for successful P3 projects in the U.S. Copies of the first stage global P3 Research will be available for attendees of the evening event.
Mahlon (Sandy) Apgar, IV - who designed and launched the U.S. Army's award-winning public-private partnerships to improve soldiers' quality of life during the Clinton Administration - will serve as keynote speaker for the evening event.
"The timing for an event like this couldn't be better," said Neil Shah, Managing Director of RICS Americas. "President Obama's strong endorsement of P3 along with support from the National Council on Public Private Partnerships, indicates just how big of a deal this topic is and RICS is happy to lead the charge on an event of this magnitude."
Market participants are also commenting on the importance and timing of this event.
"This RICS seminar should give market participants hope," said Richard Deslauriers - Partner, Consulting & Deals for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC. "Events like these are the cornerstones of effective partnerships. They allow a number of companies and individuals to get together and form consortiums, which is especially important in the U.S. since it's an emerging P3 market and there's currently a lack of widespread expertise in effectively structuring and putting P3's together."
"Just like with other advanced P3 markets, companies and individuals that excel in that space will chase the upcoming opportunities that will crop up in the U.S.," according to Deslauriers, who is based in Montreal, Canada. "When Canada first started using the P3 model, companies from the United Kingdom and other more developed P3 markets sought out the business opportunities here, which was another positive offset of P3. It creates more jobs and business opportunities because of the expertise required."
"I expect P3 to really gain momentum in the U.S.," said Deslauriers. "There has been a lot of resistance to using the funding structure as part of its government procurement."
"The U.S. has traditionally been very set in there ways, but there's starting to be more of a demand as more policymakers are seeing the benefits of the shared risk aspects of P3 infrastructure procurement," Deslauriers noted.
"P3 is getting a lot of mention in places like the Caribbean and we do a lot of this in Canada," said Deslauriers. "Because of the size and infrastructure needs in the U.S., we can expect this model to really pick up. To properly execute a P3 project, it takes a lot of know how and you also need the legislation from government to allow for it. The U.S. appears to be moving on a path that would open the doors for more P3 opportunities."
Deslauriers went further to add that some areas of the country have already had success with the P3 model. "Chicago has been quite aggressive with P3 and areas like Indiana and Texas have also done some. The key now is for Congress to move past the politics and put the greater good of the country's infrastructure needs ahead of personal and political agendas."
To that end, President Obama said that strengthening the nation's infrastructure should be a non-partisan issue because it serves the public's interest, creates jobs for the construction industry, and helps American business.
The U.S. has huge unpaid bills coming due for its infrastructure as a generation of investments in world-class infrastructure in the mid-twentieth century is now reaching the end of its useful life.
The American Society of Civil Engineers, in a 2013 report card styled assessment of America's infrastructure, put the estimated investment need by 2020 at $3.6 trillion. The report also gave the country a grade of D+ overall, which is just above a complete failure.
Private equity, corporations and other investors have lined up billions to spend on projects that offer a financial return over time or other benefits, such as tax breaks, and would go a long way toward solving the country's infrastructure funding shortfall.
However, the lack of federal policy or new funding commitments for such arrangements has slowed that approach. "We're proud to have assisted in bringing the top business, government and industry professionals together on this subject throughout the world, and we expect next week's event to go a long way towards spurring more interest in a national discussion on how to effectively implement P3 procurement within the U.S.," Shah stated.
For more information on the event or to register, please go to RICS Infrastructure Event.
RICS is the world's leading name when it comes to advancing and regulating global professional standards in land, property and construction.
Attaining RICS status is the recognized mark of property professionalism, especially in a world where people, governments, banks and commercial organizations desire greater certainty of professional standards and ethics.
To date, RICS has over 180,000 members in 146 countries, including the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Members rank from students interested in real estate careers to senior level professionals, who have established themselves as preeminent figures throughout the many disciplines within the industry.
Headquartered in London, RICS -- which was founded in 1868 and granted Royal Charter in 1881 -- is committed to setting and upholding the highest standards of excellence and integrity by providing impartial, authoritative advice on key issues affecting businesses and society. RICS regulates both its individual members and firms, allowing it to provide unparalleled client confidence in the sector.
Chad Clinton Communications Manager, Americas RICS International Square, 1875 I Street NW, 5th Floor, Washington DC, 20006 T: (202) 775-6937 M: (917) 843-6140 E: W: www.rics.org