In early November, President Biden approved the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure and Jobs Act passed by Congress. Washington State businesses and individuals are positioned to significantly benefit from these large capital investments in America’s ports, roads, clean drinking water, high-speed internet and more. Let’s take a look at just a few of these benefits.
The Infrastructure Bill Explained
It’s important to note that infrastructure investments are not intended as a “stimulus” for the economy. They are designed to make foundational investments that will deliver improved outcomes, productivity, profitability, and maintain/strengthen the United States’ global competitiveness. Washington State will receive billions for infrastructure investments which could make it a more desirable location for businesses and employees.
Washington State will receive approximately $1.79 billion for public transportation improvements with an estimated investment of $381 million in Sound Transit and $559 million in King County Metro. The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is projected to receive $228 million for improvements while Snohomish County’s Paine Field and Boeing Field/King County international are expected to receive $16 million and $6.8 million respectively.
Roads and Bridges
Washington State has 416 bridges and over 5,469 miles of highway which are rated as being in poor condition.
Since 2011, commute times have increased by 12.7% in Washington and on average, each driver pays $659 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair. (source)
It’s estimated that the infrastructure bill will deliver $4.7 billion for highway improvements and $605 million for bridge replacement and repairs.
Improvement in transportation, roads and bridges could provide businesses with large long-term financial benefits in ways they might not imagine.
A decrease in damaged goods.
It was found that in agriculture over 40% of damage to produce during transit is caused by driving on roads in poor condition. Customers don’t want to purchase damaged goods so those products go unsold, costing the industry millions of dollars over the course of years. (source) By improving roads in Washington State, we could improve the financial well-being of the agricultural and grocery sector as well as local farmers.
Reduced transit times.
Businesses and contractors who charge by the hour lose thousands of dollars a year traversing poorly maintained roads. In 2019, a New York moving company estimated that they were losing $200 a day per truck (they have 40 trucks) due to the time it took to travel the city’s rough roads – time they can’t bill the customer. (source) For Washingtonians, decreasing transit times by even 50% could deliver significant savings to commuters and businesses over the course of decades.
According to research, areas within one mile of a light rail station have 30% more retail businesses, 40% more service businesses (i.e. salons, dry cleaners, shoe repair shops), and nearly 90 percent more knowledge firms than areas more reliant on personal vehicles. And businesses have wider access to a knowledgeable and skilled workforce because public transport makes it easier for employees to get to work. (source) Washington’s investments in public transport could make it easier for this state’s workforce to travel while reducing air pollution and traffic congestion created by cars. And it could give businesses greater access to workers who live farther away from the city center.
High-speed internet access
Nearly 9% of Washington State residents do not have an internet subscription. And this percentage may be higher in low-income populations. Washington is estimated to receive $100 million to expand high-speed internet access to all Washingtonians. That includes more than 1.4 million residents who might qualify for an Affordability Connectivity Benefit to help them pay for an internet subscription.
Almost all job applications are handled via the internet. Investments in expanding high-speed internet access will help businesses reach low-income applicants in rural communities as well as urban communities that don’t currently have access to affordable internet.
Washington is expected to receive $39 million over five years to protect against wildfires. (source) The 2020 wildfires that ravaged the western U.S. cost insurers an estimated $13 billion. And that cost does not include the direct and indirect costs to businesses and communities. (source) Appropriate investments in wildfire mitigation could reduce wildfire costs significantly over the long-term and reduce the number of businesses bankrupted by devastating wildfires.