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Statement of the Hon. Jared Golden on Moving America’s Infrastructure Forward

Whether it’s the roads, rails, and bridges that we use to transport our goods, the utility systems that power our factories, or the telecommunications networks that connect consumers to businesses, maintaining America’s infrastructure is fundamental to a robust economy and to the nation’s competitiveness. Historically, America’s infrastructure network has fostered strong economies and allowed us to be both competitive and efficient. However, by many measures, we are failing to keep up with the growing demands of our modern society.

Across the U.S., years of under-investment in our infrastructure has resulted in crumbling roads, bridges in need of repair, rolling blackouts, and communities that lack access to high-speed internet. Failure to invest in our infrastructure has serious economic consequences, including lower GDP growth, lost business sales, and fewer American jobs—especially for small businesses. That is why the House Democrats’ 5-year, $760 billion proposed investment in infrastructure—the “Moving Forward Framework”—merits our attention today.

We know that investments in infrastructure contribute both directly and indirectly to economic growth.  Infrastructure investment reduces business costs, increases consumer spending, and lays the foundation for a clean energy economy.  It is also a critical component to the success of small businesses and the communities they serve. This is especially true in the energy sector.  In 2018, clean energy jobs totaled more than 3.26 million and nearly every state in the U.S. has seen an increase in the clean energy economy. America’s small businesses have been driving this growth, with nearly 70% of clean energy employees working for small businesses.  A commitment to investing in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, bio-mass, and hydro-power is an investment in our nation’s small businesses and their employees.

Similarly, a robust and well-planned investment in our infrastructure will benefit small businesses—both as end users of these networks and by creating business opportunities for them. Let’s take access to rural broadband—an issue I’ve been working on with my friend, the Ranking Member Mr. Stauber—and a key component of the Moving Forward Framework. 25 million Americans, including 37,000 individuals in my home district, do not have access to a high-speed internet connection. In fact, only 5.5 percent of households in Maine are connected to a fiber-optic network. We know that economic growth is tied to access to broadband—especially for small businesses. Small firms that have access to high speed internet earn twice as much revenue per employee, generate four times the revenue growth year-over-year, and are three times more likely to create jobs.

Finally, we can all agree that we need to enact policies that create jobs here at home. And we know that small firms dominate sectors of the economy such as construction, manufacturing, and engineering. These small businesses will play in integral role in upgrading our roads, ports, bridges, airports, and electrical grids. In fact, 61 percent of the jobs directly created by infrastructure spending would be in the construction sector, and 12 percent in the manufacturing sector. These will be high paying jobs on Main Street that cannot outsourced.

While there are many details to discuss, it is my hope that today’s hearing can help identify how investments in infrastructure, especially in surface transportation, clean energy, and rural broadband, will benefit small businesses and the economy overall.

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