WILMINGTON, Del. -- President Obama stressed the importance of investing in improvements to America's infrastructure and pointed out how such investments would attract businesses and create more jobs for the middle class during a speech at the Port of Wilmington Thursday.
The President called on the people to help him put pressure on Congress to act on the $2 trillion worth of deferred maintenance for the nation's infrastructure.
"Today, we’re launching what we call the Build America Investment Initiative,” President Obama said. “And as part of it, we’re creating a one-stop shop for cities and states looking to partner with the private sector to fund infrastructure projects. There are lots of investors who want to back infrastructure projects because, when it’s done right, they then get a steady, long-term investment. They get a steady return.”
With the President in Wilmington were New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon and Congressman John Carney, Senator Chris Coons, Governor Jack Markell, Attorney General Beau Biden, Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams and New Castle Mayor Donald Reese. Also present were members of the Obama administration, i.e. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
President Obama told local officials that the federal government would partner with cities and states to help them with the complexities of private financing of infrastructure.
"My administration is going to help states and cities apply for federal loans, get more public-private partnerships up and running, get more investment flowing into communities like Wilmington. And this builds on other actions we’ve taken to speed up the permitting process for big projects, and attract new manufacturing jobs to America."
President Obama pointed to the closed I495 bridge as an example of infrastructure that would not just be safer but also more reliable for commerce once repairs were completed. In addition, a competitive grant program called TIGER will help the Port of Wilmington rebuild a wharf that would allow it to compete with other ports for the biggest cargo ships.
"So far, TIGER grants have given a boost to 270 infrastructure projects and thousands of jobs all across 50 states," the President said of the Recovery Act initiative. "And that’s what I’m here to talk about -- creating more good jobs rebuilding America, and the opportunity that we have to seize to rebuild the American middle class."
President Obama stressed that a quality infrastructure was key to attracting business and commerce back to the U.S.A.
County Executive Gordon's entourage included his wife, Susan; Chief Administrative Officer David Grimaldi, Acting Deputy CAO Samuel Guy; Executive Assistant Franklin Cooke, who oversees security for the CE; EAs Angela Walker and Waynna Dobson and Community Services General Manager Sophia Hanson. The County Executive praised EAs Cooke's and Walker's hard work to coordinate with the Secret Service and White House, respectively, in order to make the President's visit to New Castle County go as smoothly as possible.