Infrastructure is at the center of core issues

After suffering decades of deterioration, the nation’s infrastructure is getting some long-overdue attention — in the form of financial investment.

With the year-end bipartisan commitment of more than $1 trillion in federal funding to update the United States’ bridges, roadways, internet accessibility and public transportation systems, the country has a chance to make lasting changes to its dated framework.

That’s an opportunity EDC Warren County will not let pass. In fact, over the past several years, we have taken advantage of the state’s Downtown Redevelopment Initiative funding to purchase and redevelop key properties downtown, explore retail opportunities, increase visibility of the city’s Arts District and other assets, spearhead streetscape improvements, create pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly streets, and study mixed-use redevelopment.

We’ve worked with regional organizations and municipalities to advocate for increased broadband access across Warren County, ensuring our most rural residents and outlying areas can live and work with connectivity.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have plenty of work to do. Our region still faces shortages of affordable housing and child care, a dwindling workforce, brain drain and an aging population. 

“We’ve got to figure out how to retain the talent that we have, we’ve got to figure out how to bring people off the sidelines into the workforce that are here and we have to figure out how to bring new people here,” said Jim Siplon, EDC Warren County president and CEO, during the EDC Forecast 2022 Forum earlier this year.

Infrastructure is at the center of each of these issues, a fact intensified by the persisting global pandemic. Attending school or working remotely became commonplace for those with access to high-speed internet, making more evident the necessity for infrastructure to allow broadband in even the most rural areas.

Since we learned that most of us don’t need to physically be at work, relocating to this gorgeous region — and away from the congestion of more metropolitan areas — is more possible than ever for many people. But to make the move, those folks need to first find a place to live. Real estate is at a premium in the region and has been for more than a decade, Siplon said. 

Federal funding will allow the EDC and other agencies to tackle these issues, and look to building a stronger, brighter future for Warren County.