Financing urban infrastructure in the US and Australia
As an American having lived Down Under for 12 years, I always like coming back to the US; my ‘spiritual home’ is – like Australia – changing so much (and fast), and each return visit uncovers another layer of development, innovation and progress that leaves me amazed, intrigued but, above all, confident in the successful future development of our cities.
This return trip, however, is really special. As AECOM’s lead for the 2015 US-Australia City Exchange on Local Finance Mechanisms, I’m accompanying 20 city leaders from New South Wales, Australia, to examine innovative funding and financing mechanisms used by city counterparts in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago and New York.
The 10-day peer-to-peer exchange is presented by the Future Cities Collaborative, an initiative of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia, with the support of NSW Trade and Investment and AECOM.
Having kicked off in Los Angeles, California, yesterday, my US counterparts and I are looking forward to hosting exchange delegates (including mayors, councillors and business leaders) in each city and providing introductions to local civic leaders and case study projects that demonstrate “best practice” funding and financing methods for infrastructure and urban renewal projects.
As a firm advocate for government reform and innovation in procurement practices for critically needed infrastructure, I’m really excited at the potential for knowledge sharing during the exchange, and for positive action in and around our cities after it.
When I introduced this year’s exchange delegates to US funding and financing mechanisms in April and May during the Mayors’ Forum – a central component of the Future Cities Program held during the lead up to the exchange – I could sense a real enthusiasm among Australian government leaders to be bold in meeting the country’s infrastructure backlog. We all recognise the need to leave a legacy, not a liability, for the future. Well planned and appropriately funded infrastructure will be an important part of that legacy.
The cornerstone of the Future Cities Collaborative – the Future Cities Program – is to support both regional and metropolitan city leaders from New South Wales and provide them with the knowledge, skills, and resources to build sustainable and liveable communities.
With what we’ve got planned over the coming 10 days or so, I think we’re in great shape and, following the City Exchange’s conclusion on 3 July in New York City, we look forward to the release of a 2015 City Exchange report featuring case studies and “lessons learned” to share with NSW state and local government partners, US host city sponsors, and other supporters.
Follow our journey as we make our way across the US. Daily posts and images will be uploaded to the Future Cities blog, while AECOM’s respective city leads will be sharing their own thoughts throughout the week, right here on Connected Cities.
Joe Langley is a technical director, Infrastructure Advisory, for AECOM, based in Sydney. His Value Capture Roadmap is being released by Consult Australia in July.