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Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act: A Federal Investment Guide for Local Leaders

In collaboration with Accelerator for America, the United States Conference of Mayors, and research support from Oxford Urbanists

Introduction

 

On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) into law. The IIJA supports $1.2 trillion in programming, including $550B in new spending. The act makes some of the largest investments in transportation, water, bridges, and rail in American history, and includes new investments in climate resiliency and low-emission technology to ensure we can adapt to the impacts of climate change. Combined with the historic funds made available through the American Rescue Plan (ARPA), these legacy-forming measures have the potential to reshape the physical landscape of communities and remake the American economy.

 

Despite historic federal action, the degree to which the IIJA’s potential is achieved will rest upon the actions of local leaders — and how effectively cities and communities capitalize on these funds. Local leaders must marshal funds, prioritize projects, and make clear the principles that guide their efforts. 

 

The distribution of the American Rescue Plan required local governments to organize and prepare for federal recovery dollars. Implementing the IIJA will build on these partnerships across sectors and jurisdictions to move from COVID-19 relief to an economy-wide recovery and modernization. 

 

It is our hope that this guide can bolster the efforts of local leaders to organize public, private, and civic actors in their jurisdictions to focus on big picture investments. The guide aims to do this by identifying some of the IIJA’s most transformative programs (cumulatively more than $350B) including what they do, when cities can apply for or access the funds, and the agencies, authorities, and offices responsible for administering them. In many cases, the most important role that mayors can play is serving as a convener — bringing the right people together in a room to accomplish bigger, bolder things.

 

This guide is separated into two main sections: reauthorized and newly established programs. Both sections feature programs to which key players within cities and metros either have direct access or can work with their state partners to access. The section featuring reauthorized programs highlights programs and funding streams that have been reauthorized or expanded and should be distributed from federal agencies in the near term. The section featuring newly-established programs focuses on the programs that were created within the IIJA so that city leadership can establish priorities, line up funds, and organize institutions so they are ready to move once these programs are established over the next 6 to 8 months. As the IIJA’s newly-established programs are set up, rules are made, and programs are staffed early in 2022, we will release a second, more comprehensive version of this guide similar to our American Rescue Plan Federal Investment Guide.

Executive Summary 

This guide was produced to support local action that is ambitious enough to meet the scale of IIJA. It is intended to advance the conversation to focus on actionable insights for local leaders. 

This guide is intentionally selective and not comprehensive. It focuses on 30 of the highest impact federal programs and funding streams in the IIJA that cities and local leaders should know about, representing more than $350B in spending. 

 

This guide is organized to highlight the timing, funding mechanism, and funding agency or office for programs. It focuses on the following program features:

 

  • Is the program new or does it already exist? Existing formula programs that received supplemental funds will move the most quickly. New programs, both formula and competitive, will become available more gradually. 

 

  • How is funding distributed? The guide focuses on formula and competitive funds so that local leaders know who will receive funds automatically and what funds will require application. 

 

  • How big is the program and who distributes it? The guide focuses on agency and program size so local leaders know who to reach out to with questions. 

 

  • Who receives or applies for it? The guide identifies the local parties responsible for receiving funds or applying for them. It does this to empower mayors to convene and organize the many actors involved in ensuring a range of new infrastructure programs achieve big things for their communities. 

This guide is organized so that local leaders can determine how quickly individual pots of funding will flow, who will apply for or receive funding, and who to speak with for questions. IIJA funds will be most transformative when used as a supplement to strategic local and regional projects that improve equity; they will fall short of their potential when treated as many individual pots of money to be separately competed over and managed in silos. This guide was created to facilitate the big picture, transformational thinking this moment demands. 

 

The guide lays out six strategies local leaders can adopt and modify to drive transformative outcomes in their communities:

 

  • Strategy #1: Approach IIJA Funds in Terms if Recipients and Applicants
  • Strategy #2: Engage Private Financing Using Infrastructure as a Platform
  • Strategy #3: Build Economic Opportunity Through Deployment
  • Strategy #4: Geographically Align Spending to Support Place-Making
  • Strategy #5: Use the IIJA to Address the Climate Crisis and Build Resiliency
  • Strategy #6: Position Your City as a Clean Energy & Tech Innovation Hub