The White House Council on Environmental Quality, the National Economic Council and the Ford Foundation commit to co-host a workshop at the White House that will explore the possibility of a non-governmental pilot predevelopment fund for investable infrastructure. Such a pilot fund might help private investors and state or local governments assess the value of supporting broader predevelopment funding efforts as part of state-sponsored regional infrastructure exchanges and other investable infrastructure models that emphasize 'design-build-operate-maintain' and climate resilience at their core. At scale, this effort to accelerate a new asset class of investable infrastructure could potentially represent an important national infrastructure market development catalyst.
Specifically, attendees will explore the need for such a fund (including its nature, scale of the problem, and alternatives), workshop how such a non-governmental pilot fund might be structured (including capital type, fund size, term, and priorities), and consider what evaluative standards might be implemented to define and measure success. This workshop is intended to contribute to Administration goals around infrastructure improvements, as well as climate preparedness and resilience, and investible infrastructure.
Because they are critical stakeholders to both the financing of public infrastructure and the facilitation of a predevelopment fund, meeting invitees would include representatives of philanthropy, state and local government, expert nonprofit organizations, private and institutional investors, and other private enterprises with relevant expertise. CEQ, NEC and Ford will work together mutually determine the appropriate stakeholders to engage in the meeting. The meeting will likely focus on bringing together experts and decision makers with authority to take action within the context of their organizations. Value will be put on participants who have actively worked in grantmaking, financing, policymaking and infrastructure implementation in the context of transportation, water, energy and social infrastructure. At the same time, the event will make space for those philanthropies, governments and private sector leaders who are considering engaging in the space.
Should the consensus at the meeting be that a predevelopment fund is a desirable solution to pursue, CEQ, NEC and the Ford Foundation will determine whether and how to support its development. As is appropriate with the unique capacities and authorities of each partner, this may include building on the visioning that takes place in the meeting and working with attendees to generate relevant commitments that may advance the further planning, structuring and funding of a predevelopment vehicle.
July: All partners (Council on Environmental Quality, National Economic Council, and the Ford Foundation) will work together to plan the agenda and outline of meeting. Presently, a loose agenda for the meeting includes examining the need for and value of a predevelopment fund, facilitating a workshop on the potential structuring of a pilot fund, and the consideration of evaluative standards to understand and note the fund's impact.
August: Determine invitees (including representatives of philanthropy, state and local government, expert nonprofit organizations, private and institutional investors, and other private enterprises with relevant expertise.) Distribute meeting invitations.
September: Hold meeting
Sept-Oct: Perform relevant follow up Should the consensus at the meeting be that a predevelopment fund is a desirable solution to pursue, CEQ, NEC and the Ford Foundation will determine whether and how to support next steps. As is appropriate with the unique capacities and authorities of each partner, this may include building on the visioning that takes place in the meeting, working with attendees generate relevant commitments that may advance the further planning, structuring and funding of a predevelopment vehicle.
The nation needs new approaches and all hands on deck to address its growing public infrastructure needs and climate resilience challenges. America's private sector and financial markets are the most sophisticated and advanced in the world, but to date these private resources have not been used to their fullest capacity. Several models that can better harness this national asset are emerging, including mechanisms for collaborating at a regional level for public infrastructure investment. These models advance investible infrastructure by enhancing the capacity of state and local governments to evaluate projects, performing benefit cost analyses of public and private alternatives, encouraging lifecycle analyses, aggregating smaller projects to achieve scale attractive for private investment, and performing necessary financial and policy due diligence to generate shovel and investment-ready projects.
The White House recently hosted a forum on one such model, the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange (WCX) - a partnership between the states of California, Oregon and Washington- designed to increase and enhance investable, resilient infrastructure. More broadly, a focus on the investable infrastructure model is emerging as a focus across infrastructure-facing divisions of the Administration.
Such models often have special advantages in driving climate-resilient infrastructure. Since they often require a private partner to not only design, finance, and build a public infrastructure project, but also operate and maintain it overtime, the approach can encourage lifecycle planning, including climate change considerations, in a way that typical methods of infrastructure finance often do not. Raising the profile and importance of infrastructure asset management also is likely to generate additional employment opportunities as the importance of asset maintenance, rather than deferred maintenance is emphasized more heavily under these models than through traditional mechanisms, which do not account for the value of long-term maintenance.
One increasingly recognized barrier to this promising approach is a lack of predevelopment and planning funding available to develop and evaluate investable infrastructure projects. Modest but catalytic predevelopment funding can be essential to assessing and advancing major infrastructure projects; these funds can support the necessary cost-benefit, lifecycle, and environmental analyses noted above. It has been suggested that for want of predevelopment funding - of perhaps ,000 to ,000 per project - states and localities are often unable to pursue potentially significant infrastructure projects that may have otherwise created jobs, contributed to national resilience and delivered millions in value or savings to their communities.
The Administration, philanthropy, states and others have recognized the potential of a predevelopment fund supported by philanthropic and other private funding that could serve as a pilot to test the value of such predevelopment funding for investible infrastructure models, such as state-supported regional exchanges.
CEQ, NEC and Ford will seek expert and motivated attendees from philanthropy, state and local government, nonprofits, private enterprises, and financial institutions to contribute to the meeting's development and impact.
Participants in the meeting will be able to contribute to the examination of potential structures and uses for a philanthropically seeded pre-development fund.