Earlier this month I had the opportunity to join my colleagues from the National Association of Counties to discuss stimulus funding and infrastructure priorities. We also spoke about the crucial role county governments across the country play in protecting public health and how our roles as elected officials have changed during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
I was joined by fellow elected officials from Wisconsin, Texas, Florida and Kentucky. We each shared our personal experiences as part of a panel discussion about our respective COVID-19 recovery efforts and how we plan to utilize dollars provided through the American Rescue Plan Act Recovery Fund.
In addition to participating in the roundtable forum with my NACo colleagues, I also met at the White House with Biden Administration officials Mitch Landrieu and Samantha Silverberg to learn more about their plans on implementing a signature piece of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. The bipartisan infrastructure plan will lead to the eventual distribution of approximately $1.2 trillion in new funding to help pay for roads, bridges, water pipelines, high-speed internet access and various other infrastructure improvements throughout the country.
This funding will be in addition to the funding Erie County has received under Biden’s American Rescue Plan to invest in our community by paying for much-needed capital improvements, promote and support small businesses and allow for the continued economic development of our region.
I believe a regional approach to which major infrastructure projects will be pursued is the best strategic plan in ultimately deciding where these massive amounts of federal dollars will be spent. Billions in infrastructure funding is expected to arrive in Western New York in the next few years, money that will help pay for various transportation projects, replacing water and sewer lines and helping to provide state-of-the-art broadband internet service.
My recent trip to our nation’s capital was productive. I was reassured that the federal government is committed to playing an instrumental role in our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by improving local infrastructure. The pandemic has presented numerous challenges that were unthinkable just a few years ago. I’m confident we will develop a long-term plan to build a bigger, better and brighter future for Erie County that will help us overcome the widespread negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What lies ahead for us is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overcome the public health ramifications and negative economic impact caused by the pandemic. We will work collaboratively with our partners in Washington to improve our infrastructure in Erie County so our community can be embraced and enjoyed for many years to come.