Champions of Change: Rebuilding America's Infrastructure

Uploaded by whitehouse on 15.02.2012

Erin Hannigan: Good afternoon.
Welcome to the White House.
And for those of you who went online welcome as well.
My name is Erin Hannigan and I work here in the Office of
Public Engagement.
I wanted to be the first to welcome all of you,
especially thank our champions of change who we are here to
honor today who are innovators in infrastructure.
And if we could just start with a round of applause for all of
our champions.
We're looking forward to a great event with our champions today.
I want to encourage everyone here today in the audience and
watching online to learn more about the great work
and leadership of our champions by going to
You can learn more about them and their work on that website.
Now, before we begin our discussion with our champions
we have a few special guests.
First up is my boss Jon Carson.
Jon is Deputy Assistant to the President in the office -- and
the Director of the Office of Public Engagement here
at the White House.
Jon Carson: Thank you, Erin.
And good afternoon, everyone!
Welcome to the White House.
I just want to start by telling you a little bit about the idea
behind the Champions of Change program and then I have an "ask"
for everyone watching online, everyone here in the audience,
and a special ask for our champions here today.
You know, here in Washington, D.C., there are so many issues
that we're dealing with and so many arguments and debates over
the issues that this country is faced with,
but what this President knows and this White House knows is
that no matter what's going on here in Washington,
D.C., all across this country there are millions of people
making a real difference in their communities,
making their communities lives better,
being Champions of Change.
And so what we try to do every week is honor those people.
Bring them here to the White House and help tell their story
about the change they're making in their community.
We've had some interesting groups before.
One of my favorites we had a group of chefs who've partnered
with local school districts to bring the ideas of "Let's Move!"
to a school cafeteria near them.
We've had people who are tackling domestic violence
in their communities.
But I have to tell you I'm personally so excited about
our Champions of Change who are working on "innovation
through infrastructure."
I'm a civil engineer by training so I saw we have a mayor here
who has been working on some sewage treatment plants,
something I get excited about, probably not everyone does --
-- but also, so many of us in this Administration saw the
Recovery Act from start to these incredible stories of what's
happening in communities.
And one thing that's of no surprise to us and I'm sure
to all of you, is that where we had the biggest impact with the
Recovery Act was where we had local leaders,
local Champions of Change like all of you here who are able to
maximize those dollars, bring people into the process like so
many of you did.
So that gets me to my "ask" for all of you.
The real goal here beyond highlighting the great things
that are happening, is to spread the word.
To shine the light on examples that others can follow and
others can say if it can be done here,
we can do this in our community.
So my ask to all of you is to tell this story.
If you're online tweet about it; write about it; blog about it.
Pull someone aside at the grocery store tomorrow and
tell them about it.
If you're here in the audience, help tell your own story.
If you want to tweet me about it I'm at JonCarson44.
I'll be tweeting about this all afternoon.
But really, to our champions here,
what we see so often is that sometimes those local heroes,
those local leaders, are the ones who are most reticent to
tell their own story, to be that example.
But I ask all of you to do so.
Help, let your local media know about it.
Tell that story.
Because I will tell you we have seen so many stories
as we highlighted champions, others following their lead,
learning from what you did and really spreading the word.
So thank you for everything you've done.
And now I have the great honor to introduce someone who I will
tell you is a Champion of Change here inside this government.
Someone who believes in exactly what you are doing,
who believes in what a partnership with the federal
government can do at the local level,
our Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood.
Secretary Ray LaHood: Well, good afternoon, everybody.
Thank you, Jon.
And thanks to all of you for being in Washington.
Thanks for coming to Washington.
Thanks for allowing us to highlight the great work that
you're all doing.
Three years ago when I came to this job and within 30 days of
the President after he was sworn in signed into law a program
called "the economic recovery."
The stimulus bill.
And in that Bill was $48 billion.
And I really came here to say thank you to those that are
gathered that benefited and used that money effectively to put
friends and neighbors to work.
But to others of that you are gathered here, too,
for the work that you do day in and day out to try and figure
out ways how do we get this economy moving,
how do we get people back to work.
And what we're proudest of is that $48 billion was spent
within two years on 15,000 projects that put 65,000
friends and neighbors to work.
Now, there's no dispute about that.
The other thing that's great about the $48 billion on 15,000
projects that put 65,000 people to work,
not one bad story.
No earmarks.
No boondoggles.
No Sweetheart deals.
No bad stories.
That's because of the folks that received the money they knew how
to spend it.
They spent it correctly.
And they put people to work on projects that needed doing in
the community!
And that happened all over America.
Now, I know prior to the last election there were a lot of
30-second commercials run by people who didn't know what
they were talking saying that the stimulus didn't work.
That was baloney when it came to the transportation stimulus.
It worked!
It put people to work.
We have some great examples of it here.
And it happened all across the government, not just at DOT,
but in every agency of government.
Every department.
Every Cabinet Secretary had an opportunity with resources,
but we could not have done it without our partners.
The way that we're successful is not by shoveling money out
around the country; it's by partnering with folks that are
gathered here today that make a difference,
that have creative ideas, that want to get people back to work,
and that's what we're celebrating here today
and that's what we're highlighting here today.
This is a success story about good ideas coming from the
communities, not from Washington, D.C.,
not from President Obama, not from Ray LaHood,
from the communities!
And that's really what this is all about.
So I couldn't be prouder.
And I was on Capitol Hill today, I was before the Senate Budget
Committee today talking about the President's big vision for
transportation that we just rolled out our budget and we
haven't paid for it, but I was talking about,
somebody said how do you really make this work to
put people to work?
And I talked about what we're celebrating here.
I talked about what we're highlighting here.
I talked about how the 48 billion was spent correctly.
So the work that we do in government cannot be done
unless we have great partners.
Some of our partners are governors,
some of our partners are mayors, some of our partners are people
that are gathered here.
People who are running programs.
People who know what the needs are.
People who know how to create jobs given
the resources to do it.
And so this program worked.
And for us to highlight it here today I think
is quite extraordinary.
And we have been able to use it now as an example of this
is what will happen if the Congress were to pass the
Transportation Bill.
We've gone three and a half years beyond the last bill.
We need for Congress to pass a bill.
A bill that reflects the values of people in the country when it
comes to transportation which means roads and bridges but it
also means transit programs, buses, light rail, streetcars,
what people in communities have been working on to deliver
people around their community and also high-speed rail,
by the way, which I argued for very vociferously before the
Senate Budget Committee today against a few Republicans who
don't think it's quite a good use of our money.
But the people in the country do.
Just like they believe that what all of you have done is a good
use of taxpayer dollars matched with great skill,
great ingenuity, great creativity,
about how to put friends and neighbors
to work in communities.
That's what we want to highlight today and I hope you'll carry
that message back to say that we know that if we make investments
in infrastructure we make investments in American workers.
American workers building America's infrastructure.
American workers putting hard-earned tax dollars
to good use.
So I'm proud of what we've done.
But we could not have done it without those of you gathered,
seated out there, and most importantly without the good
work that all of you do.
So I applaud you.
Keep it up.
Keep it going.
Carry the message.
And we'll continue to be successful.
Thank you, everybody.
Erin Hannigan: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Next up we have the Deputy Administrator from the EPA,
Bob Perciasepe, who will make a few remarks and introduce all of
our wonderful champions here today.
Bob Perciasepe: There are very few people more enthusiastic about the nation's
infrastructure than Secretary Lahood, I can tell you that.
I've been subjected to some of that enthusiasm
on many occasions.
I want to add my voice to the congratulations and the thanks
to all the partners who are here today.
And I think it goes without saying,
but it certainly doesn't go without repeating appropriately,
the nature of the partnership in getting the nation's
infrastructure to where it needs to be.
And we have so much work to do and so many people who are
willing to do it that our celebration of the work that's
going on is vitally important.
I would also say that there is no doubt in my mind that the
country is built on the strength of its infrastructure and the
foundation of our economy and of jobs is vitally important.
And I couldn't be happier and prouder to be here today.
EPA plays a small role in this working with local governments
and state governments on water infrastructure,
cleaning land so that land is available for development
through cleanup and brown fields programs,
our water and waste water infrastructure program is
now a national bank with 50 branch offices,
that's up over a hundred billion dollars together that is now
making repayments and going into to working
on the local infrastructure.
We're happy to be part of that.
We know water infrastructure is a critical element for health as
well as economic development.
So let me go right to the introductions and
the overview of the champions that are here today.
Justin Augustine is the Chief Executive Officer of the
Regional Transit Authority in New Orleans, Louisiana.
And is responsible for the vision and creation
of the Loyola Avenue Streetcar Expansion.
This $45 million investment has attracted new investment
along Loyola Avenue totaling $1.2 billion.
Amber Benson led the Broadband Incentives Program,
high-speed mobile broadband upgrade project in West
Virginia, PCS Alliance, LC and nTelos Wireless.
From application to implementation and reporting,
Amber managed the $3.3 million investment that allowed the
company to upgrade voice-only cell sites in rural areas of
West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania to high-speed
mobile broadband.
Paulson Chaco is the Director of the Navajo Division of the
Transportation -- of Transportation occupying a
cabinet-level position to the President of the Navajo Nation.
And is utilizing a $31 million investment to improve safety on
U.S. 491 in New Mexico.
Paulson is responsible for all major aspects of planning,
development, advocacy and implementation of roads and
the transportation program and services on the Navajo Nation.
Dr. Jana Davis is the Associate Executive Director and chief
scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
She oversees a number of grant programs for the trust including
a new partnership with the EPA and the Maryland Department of
Natural Resources to fund green street projects including the
one in Edmondston, Maryland, with the aid of funds from
the Recovery Act.
Joe Freddoso is President and CEO of MCNC which is
an independent nonprofit corporation in its mission
to provide advanced Intranet and Internet networking services to
community anchor institutions in North Carolina.
With the aid of the Recovery Act MCNC is expanding broadband
infrastructure through a Department of Commerce grant
and matching private funds.
You can see the pattern here: Matching funds; leveraging;
providing services to different parts of the country.
Philip Guerin has worked for the City of Worcester,
Massachusetts, for the past 28 years and is currently Director
of Environmental Systems for the Department of Public
Works and Parks.
Under Philip's leadership and others in the community and
Recovery Act funds, 200,000 residents in Worcester,
Massachusetts, are able to get clean drinking water through
the ability to bring solar photovoltaic power to the water
filtration plant.
Talk about an integration of a number of different
infrastructures there.
Janelle Jessen is the Accounting and Office Manager for Venture
Communications Cooperative in Highmore, South Dakota.
After receiving a $5.2 million investment from
the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement
a fiber-to-the-premise project in an underserved area of South
Dakota, Janelle's hard work ensured 865 rural subscribers
who have new and improved broadband service.
Anybody here try to live a day without broadband
services these days?
It's hard to imagine how much that means to people these days
to get that kind of service to your home.
Mayor Dave Norris of West Monroe, Louisiana,
has helped to ensure a clean and sustainable water source for his
city of 13,000 residents and surrounding communities.
West Monroe designed and just recently completed construction
of a recycling plant that has the capacity to recycle up to 10
million gallons per day of affluent from their wastewater
treatment plant into water.
Under Norris' leadership and through his work with their
local industry, they have found a cost-effective method to
protect both jobs and the environment.
Henry Perahia is the Chief Bridge Officer of the New York
City Department of Transportation -- my hometown;
I live in Brooklyn-- -- and I have a bridge that's
right near me --
-- a position he has held since 1999.
He is responsible for the planning and administration
of all aspects of design, construction and maintenance
of 787 city-owned bridges and tunnels,
including my favorite one, the Brooklyn Bridge.
This $175 million project included the rehabilitation
of eight vehicular bridges, one pedestrian bridge,
and one parking field to provide improved commuter access to the
Statton Island Ferry Terminal for 60,000 daily riders.
Sam E. Swan is the Project Manager for the DFW Connector
Project and is responsible for overseeing and managing
procurement, design, construction at 260 million.
The DFW Connector represents the single largest IRA
highway investment.
The project is 50% complete and six to 12 months ahead
of schedule due to field and technology innovations,
including electronic data collection.
Don Welch is the President and CEO
of Merit Network, Incorporated.
Merit Network, Incorporated, a nonprofit corporation governed
by Michigan's public universities,
which owns and operates America's longest-running
regional research and education network.
Merit's reach Michigan Middle Mile Collective Project which is
funded by two Recovery Act broadband grants and will build
over 2,287 miles of open access advanced fiberoptic network
through rural and underserved communities in Michigan's lower
and upper peninsulas.
Now we'll have a chance to hear from each of our champions about
their work and get our first panel started.
But let's have a round of applause for the work that
all of these folks have been doing.
I think that the key point to all of those accomplishments is
the fact that they are serving many different kinds of
communities in the country from New York to North Dakota.
They are leveraging funds and investment across the country
and they are really moving us forward on infrastructure.
So I am honored to be here with all of you today.
Erin Hannigan: Now, for our first panel, we're excited to hear from
Danny Wuerffel.
Danny will be moderating this panel.
He is the Federal Comptroller at OMB.
So, Danny?
Danny Wuerffel: Thank you.
It's an honor to be a part of this event.
Three years ago this week the President signed the Recovery
Act into law.
I had the privilege of working very closely in coordinating a
lot of the federal government's efforts on the implementation of
the Recovery Act and through that process have gotten to
meet, talk to on the phone, and interact with people all over
the country as we worked on these issues together.
I think it's been stated well so far in the remarks that the
Recovery Act, you know, has been enormously successful in a lot
of different ways.
There is often debates and those debates occur at the macro
discussions of how many jobs were created or impact on GDP,
the unemployment rate.
Those are important debates to happen and we believe that there
are independent entities such as the Congressional Budget Office,
a slew of different independent economists from all stripes that
point to very critical macroeconomic indicators
that show the success of the Recovery Act.
But one of the reasons I think we're having this event today is
because it's really important to push past some of those macro
numbers and really understand what's happening
at the local level.
What's the impact that the Recovery Act, federal programs,
state and local programs, what impact is this dollar having --
these dollars having to people and to communities.
And to do that it takes time to understand what's happening.
You have to unpack it.
You have to pull back the onion layers and talk to people and do
case studies and investigate.
And that's something that we have been working with in the
Administration is to try to push past the macro numbers
and understand what's happening.
Because what's happening at the local level is not just
important to understand the impact of dollars and to make
sure there is a good understanding of the
impact of the Recovery Act; it's helpful because it generates
understanding of how programs work,
best practice sharing and collaboration across different
types of programs and across the United States.
And so this event is an opportunity to do some pulling
back of the onion layer to unpack some of these successes
and to let people in this room and beyond start to understand
some of the challenges and opportunities that existed in
your local communities and how the Recovery Act was helpful.
Our panel today has been introduced.
Justin Augustine from the New Orleans Regional
Transit Authority.
Paulson Chaco from the Navajo Nation Division of
Transportation in New Mexico.
Jana Davis from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
Mayor Dave Norris from the City of West Monroe, Louisiana.
Henry Perahia from the New York City Department
of Transportation.
And Sam Swan who manages the DFW Connector Project in Texas.
Let me turn to them and get their perspectives on the work
of the Recovery Act.
Let me start with Justin.
Justin, can you tell us how the New Orleans Streetcar Project
has contributed to economic development in New Orleans both
now and in the future?
Justin Augustine: Absolutely, Danny.
Thank you.
Well, as y'all are aware, New Orleans was hit with a
devastating hurricane in 2005.
So there was two things we had to do: Number 1,
we had to bring transportation back to the community;
and we had to use transportation as an economic catalyst.
Let me focus on the economics of the transportation investment.
Today the Loyola Quarter, which is the newest of the five phases
of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority's Streetcar
Expansion Program, is generating $2.7 billion
of economic investments.
1.3 billion of the 2.7 billion is within three blocks of that
transit corridor.
And we feel at least at a minimum 185 million of those
investments are a direct result of that streetcar investment.
Not only is it bringing a new economic vitality to downtown
New Orleans, but it's generating a new, strong,
livable neighborhood called the South Market District.
Today it is estimated that an additional 2300 square feet of
retail space will be developed in addition to 2400 hotel rooms
will be joining the great city of the City of New Orleans.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I tell you, why is that important?
It means jobs creations.
It means the opportunity to put our people back to work.
It means the opportunity to take a transit investment and to have
private investment leveraged to create a new dynamic, vital,
bursting community that was never there before.
So we're very, very proud of that, Danny.
And I want to thank you for assistance with that.
Danny Wuerffel: Thank you, Justin.
I think the example of the New Orleans Streetcar Project is
really a great example of economic stimulus.
The investment that was made from the federal loan dollars
was leveraged effectively and that leveraging not only created
jobs, which was the underlying purpose of the Recovery Act,
but had additional benefits in terms of the impact it's having
on community and affecting the citizens in the area.
It's really, it's a multi-dimensional impact
and I think the New Orleans Project exemplifies that.
And I thank you for your leadership in stewarding those
dollars to the success that we're seeing.
Let's turn over to Paulson Chaco.
Paulson, I understand that your project,
which includes $31 million of investment on U.S.
Highway Number 491 will not only significantly improve safety
concerns, but it has also generated jobs.
Can you talk about how you approached the project and how
you made sure that job growth was a priority?
Paulson Chaco: Thank you, Danny.
And I want to thank the Obama Administration for allowing me
the opportunity to bring into the national forefront the
inequity of road and infrastructure dollars
on Indian country.
And to address your question, yes,
the 491 project basically allowed us to build a road in
Indian country and also in the state of New Mexico bringing in
approximately 535 jobs, direct jobs,
and this equates to in -- that provides good economic
development for our communities.
It allowed for the development of a road projects that at one
time was three times the national average in crashes
on U.S. 491.
So that basically addressed those issues.
Danny Wuerffel: Thank you. Thank you, Paulson.
Again, I think there is a similar theme here of how
infrastructure investments, if done right,
have a huge win/win putting people back to work,
but also creating improvement to roads and to other
infrastructure that we as citizens rely on to live our
daily lives and to promote our communities.
So I thank you for sharing your story with us.
Jana Davis.
Jana, in your role with the Chesapeake Bay Trust,
you worked with the EPA to leverage Recovery Act funds to
address stormwater issues and make streets more accessible to
pedestrians in Edmondston, Maryland.
And you did this all using green techniques.
Can you share with us how you have been able to overcome
challenges of improving aging infrastructure in
a sustainable way?
Dr. Jana Davis: Sure. Sure.
So again, I'd like to echo some of the other panelists,
thanks for having us here.
And it's been really fun to kind of share our stories.
And we're learning, I think, from each other.
One of the trust's main goals is to use and promote the idea of
green infrastructure.
Green techniques to kind of augment our traditional
infrastructure to accomplish multiple goals at once which you
mentioned earlier, the sort of win/win.
So we're aiming for more of a win/win/win where we can
accomplish the infrastructure needs that we have with the jobs
piece, but also with an environmental focus.
If we have to get certain infrastructure projects done,
let's figure out a way to do them,
but also have an environmental or positive environmental impact
at the same time.
The Recovery Act funds allowed us to demonstrate a couple of
different of those green infrastructure techniques.
The first is a technique called living shorelines that we work
on with our NOAA partners.
And the second is this green streets idea that we work on
with our EPA partners.
The challenge that you refer to, one of the major challenges
really is to figure out a way to demonstrate the value,
the win/win/win value of these techniques to the communities in
which we're building these new infrastructure techniques or
using them.
In the case of the Edmondston project really was Mayor Ardmore
Tease, the mayor at the time in the tiny town of Edmondston who
took the lead on demonstrating this,
the value of this to his community,
the idea that these infrastructure,
green infrastructure techniques make sense from a financial
perspective, from a social perspective,
from an aesthetic perspective.
These green streets make communities more livable,
they improve value to business, they improve stormwater.
So in this case the idea of partnerships,
a lot of different folks played a role in making sure that these
ideas have been demonstrated and sort of proven to folks around,
in our case, the State of Maryland,
but now in a broader sense than that.
Danny Wuerffel: Thank you, Dr. Davis.
I couldn't agree more.
I think there is that third "win" category of jobs,
community impact in terms of building things that are
necessary and useful to our communities,
but also the opportunity to do things in a more environmentally
sustainable way.
There really was in the Recovery Act and looking forward in terms
of the priority of infrastructure investment,
those three dimensions.
And there may be more.
There is just a lot of positives that flow out of it.
And again in all three of the cases we have gone over so far
and the additional three, it's amazing when the projects are
done right how these benefits can come together and tell a
really important story.
But let's turn to Mayor Dave Norris.
As mayor you know the importance of and the challenge in
prioritizing budgets and balancing your budgets while at
the same time creating jobs and providing the vital resources to
your constituents.
West Monroe, the town for which you are mayor,
used recovery funds to maintain a sustainable water source.
And we believe in looking at that project is a good example
of how to strike that balance.
Can you talk a little bit about the project and how you were
able to create a lasting water source in an effective way?
Mayor David Norris: Sure. I've been mayor a long time, 30, almost 34 years.
I was a college professor before that.
And I taught economics.
So I'm used to looking at a crowd of people who see their
eyes glaze over.
My newest topic is wastewater, so those that haven't glazed
over already, this will do it!
We were faced, or are faced in our community with a problem
that has pretty regional impact.
In north Louisiana where I live in our city of about 13,000,
there are 14 parishes -- we call counties parishes -- and there
are 14 parishes that are impacted by underground source
of drinking water, our main source of drinking water in all
those 14 parishes that is declining very rapidly.
And we were told by a study that was done in 2001 you've got to
do something about it or you're going to lose that source of
drinking water.
And a lot of the communities, especially rural communities,
are not close enough to another source.
So the study recommended about $250 million worth of projects.
We didn't have a funding source for them,
so we started looking for another source.
I live in a town that has our largest and most important
employer for really good manufacturing jobs
is a paper mill.
The paper mill pulled the most out of that aquifer of any place
in the 14-parish area.
So rather naively I said, you know,
if we could figure a way to find an alternative source of water
for the paper mill, like if we could upgrade our wastewater
from our treatment plant where they could use it,
I'll bet we could get them to quit using the aquifer water.
And they agreed to that.
This wastewater treatment plant treats waste water
for about 30,000 people.
And for those of you that are here from EPA, that plant,
the one that is now, it's about overloaded,
we built back in the early '80s with special funding from EPA
for innovative technology, but we knew we had to replace it.
So I decided we'll make a deal with our employer,
our big employer, we'll figure a way to upgrade our wastewater to
whatever standards they need.
They said, fine.
We need EPA primary and secondary standards of water.
In other words, you need to upgrade wastewater affluent
to drinking water because their paper comes in contact
with food.
Well, being an economist and not an engineer, I thought, hey,
that shouldn't be too big a problem.
We worked on that for about five years.
And we came up with a system that we tested for a full year,
what really essentially is a full-scale test,
we took the components of that system which we've replicated
now in this new plant 12 times, we took those components and ran
that wastewater for a year and we met EPA's primary and
secondary drinking water standards for a year.
So we applied for state funding, for local funding,
and for federal funding through the Stimulus Act.
We received 20, right at $20 million in total,
we built the plant, the plant started operating on a limited
scale about two weeks ago.
It's fabulous.
I hate to put the water that comes out of the aquifer up next
to the water that comes out of the treatment plant because the
difference is so stark.
The water that comes out of the treatment plant is pristine.
It's going to meet -- and we haven't done all the tweaking
yet -- but it will meet the EPA standards for primary and
secondary drinking water and we'll be able to do it at an
economical cost effective rate.
So our goal is by using this plant,
the paper mill has agreed to take 7 million gallons a day and
that will allow them to stop using that many gallons out of
the aquifer which is about 40% of the total deficit in this
whole 14-parish area.
We have the capacity to go up to 10 million gallons a day.
But the real winner is that we have a way to treat wastewater
affluent water, or water from lakes,
surface lakes in a cost-effective manner
to bring them up to EPA standards where they can
either through injection wells or through some substitution be
used for drinking water.
So it helped, it certainly helps save jobs,
it helps us not have to restrict withdrawal from the aquifer when
we get it up to full scale.
And of course it protects the health of the people.
So we appreciate the contribution that the federal
funds made to that which was about 30% of the total cost.
Danny Wuerffel: Thank you, Mayor.
And I think there was a lot of winners in that story and a lot
of angles to be proud of.
In particular I think one of the things I want to reflect on is
the importance of having practical people like you at the
ground looking at these different connections,
figuring out how best to use this money.
You mentioned the federal government
was 30% of the investment.
You're blending funds in order to produce the highest possible
return on investment and impact across the very dimensions that
we have been describing: Jobs; community impact;
environmental outcomes.
But again it's the practical person at the ground who's
making it happen.
And there's a lot of people like Mayor Norris across the country
who have similar stories to tell.
Let's turn to Henry Perahia.
Henry, the Statton Island Ferry Terminal Project,
which is a $175 million project, will improve commuter access for
60,000 daily riders.
My team has personally visited the site and seen the impact it
will have on the Statton Island area.
Can you talk about the partnerships that are in place
for addressing this complex project and how you're engaging
riders and other stakeholders along the way?
Henry Perahia: Absolutely.
First let me say how grateful I am to be receiving this
recognition on behalf of the work being performed by the
New York City Department of Transportation.
In New York City, under Mike Bloomberg and Commissioner
Sadik-Khan, there was a strong commitment to infrastructure.
But in most of our projects, especially this one,
we have the added complexity of trying to reconstruct our aging
infrastructure while still maintaining essential services.
It's sort of like trying to maintain a car while driving
down the highway at 50 miles an hour.
In this project, working with our partners in New York City
Transit, we are closing one ramp to bus service at a time keeping
all the other ramps open.
This way we minimize the inconvenience to our customers.
I'm proud to say that we have completed over 56% of the
contract work without interrupting even one run
of the 22 different bus lines that operate on five different
ramps, one run of the Statton Island railway or one taxicab or
handicap van run or the pedestrians and bicyclists
that use the facility.
Another partner and part of the complexity of the project,
is immediately to the north of us we have the ballpark of the
Statton Island Yankees, a single A minor league team,
and we can't do any work that impacts access to that ballpark
during baseball season which happens to be the height of the
construction season.
The key to all of this, in my opinion,
is to constantly keep the public informed.
As with most of our major projects,
we have a full-time community liaison assigned to the project.
We are, therefore, in regular contact with our emergency
responders, with the folks at the city's 311 line,
the community boards and elected officials.
And we send out notices at least a week in advance of
any service change.
This is just one example, and it's a card that says "where
is my bus?"
And when we change a lane these cards are handed out to the
people on the bus, to the people in the terminal to let them know
next week you're going to be picking up your bus at a
different ramp.
We also have a person that staffs the phone line during
every workday so if there is any questions,
there is a human being that you can talk to.
We also post this information on our very popular website,
on our Facebook page, and we tweet one day before any service
change any of the new information.
I also think the construction methodology we're using,
design-build, helps also in the process because the designer and
the contractor work as a team as opposed to having separate
contractual relationships with the city.
In addition to that, we have incentives and disincentives for
which there is a financial incentive for finishing the
project early and I think that helps.
And I think I would be remiss if I didn't mention the great
cooperation and partnership we have with the folks at the
Federal Transit Administration.
So I think it's these partnerships which helped
the project move so smoothly.
Danny Wuerffel: Thank you, Henry.
There's a lot of ingredients there to success.
And practical solutions and innovation seem to be permeating
throughout your approach and again I think we all
appreciate it.
And I know the people of New York and Statton Island
appreciate it as well.
Sam Swan.
Sam and the DFW Connector Project is the largest highway
construction project in the Recovery Act funded
at $260 million.
And I understand it's currently ahead of schedule.
Can you talk about some of the innovations that you are using
to move this project forward in such a timely manner?
Sam Swan: Yes, I'll be glad to.
Henry, you're a pretty hard act to follow, but I'm going to try.
And I have a lot of similar experiences that I'd like to
share with you that as far as innovation goes,
we really started when we were actually developing the contract
which is Henry says, but we tried to understand the
difference between price and value.
Price is what you pay but value is what you get.
So it's a different mindset as far as design-build.
But we knew we wanted to try new things.
We knew we wanted state of the art ways of doing things to take
that forward to other projects.
So this is almost experimental for the
Texas Department of Transportation.
We had done it once before.
But we have innovation involved in not only our public
information group where we have -- we're utilizing social media,
we have a website, we're issuing web alerts if there
are emergency lane closures so people -- we have about
200 vehicles -- 200,000 vehicles a day.
So we have to get that information out to the motorists
so they either can plan a new route or do something a little
different to make their commute a little bit easier.
We are using realtime scheduling information so it's very,
very innovation as far as I'm concerned.
And then we don't -- were trying to be as paperless as possible.
We have a virtual plan table where all our plan drawings
are electronic.
We are utilizing 3D modeling not only in design but actually out
in the construction.
And we do a lot of our haul vehicles we're using
GPS tracking devices.
And a lot of our equipment that we have is very state
of the art, it's very new, at least to us.
And the reason for all of these innovations or these innovative
techniques and tools, it's not about computers and gadgets,
it's actually about efficiency.
It's actually about accelerating the project,
getting out of the way as soon as we can.
We originally figured it would take about five years
to complete the job.
And it looks like we're going to,
we're going to complete the job, if we have good weather,
about a year ahead of schedule.
So it is definitely a success story.
Danny Wuerffel: Well, that's great.
And I think, you know, that's the type of story that doesn't
get out enough.
Believe me, if you were going to be a year late,
the story would get out.
But the year early doesn't always make the headlines.
And I think that's one of the challenges that we have in
explaining the impact that our investments are happening,
is that good news is hard to spread sometimes.
But there's a lot going on in our local communities.
Paulson, I think you wanted to add one more point on your
project in response to some of the comments that were made?
Paulson Chaco: Thank you, Danny.
The 491 Project, as I stated earlier,
basically was in collaboration with the State of New Mexico.
New Mexico Department of Transportation had a lot of
contribution toward this project.
It was a collaborative effort between our nation
and the state DOT.
Now, the collaborative effort involves numerous compacts and
agreements with the state DOTs.
In essence what it came and boiled down to is the
sovereignty of our courts and the sovereignty of our laws
based on the sovereignty of the State of New Mexico.
As you might note, that that was very time consuming and
into development of those agreements,
Harvard, State of New Mexico, contributed about $30 million
worth of their own state dollars.
The Arab contributed about 30 million in Arab projects.
And the Navajo nation through it's Indian Reservation Roads
Program contributed $8 million for this project alone.
The project itself went fairly smoothly.
However, again, it was the collaborative effort between
the state and the Navajo nation that allowed this to happen.
Otherwise, I don't think we would have -- we would see a
project of this magnitude in Indian country.
Thank you.
Danny Werfel: Thank you, Paulson.
Mayor Norris, let me ask a follow-up question to you and
others can weigh in as well.
We have a few more minutes left.
One of the things we often hear about is the -- is the very
stakeholder interests not always aligned.
Not everyone on the same page with some of these projects.
But you have got to bring everyone to the same page in
order to be successful.
Did you see any of that with particular project the waste
water project you described and what kind of strategies did you
use to bring everyone together?
Mayor Norris: Well, of course, if you have industry that uses ground water,
for example, and the ground water becomes scarce,
somebody is going to have use less.
Unless you can find a way to fill the gap.
That paper mill in our community,
and there is another paper mill about 40-miles away
that also uses water.
Had done a lot of things to reduce their consumption of
water, but because of the nature of the product they make,
it comes in contact with food, they had to have water of a
very high quality.
And in sitting down and talking with them,
they had to go to their customers,
they had to get FDA approval.
They were willing to do that because they,
they saw the impact that this could have on --
on the community.
And, of course, when people talk about environmental issues and
economic issues, being in conflict with one another,
there are often ways to work those out.
And that was extremely important to us.
We couldn't survive their well, without that aquifer,
but we also couldn't survive without the jobs,
direct and indirect jobs that that paper mill produces.
It is a very innovative paper mill and creates a lot of
important jobs.
Incidentally, I have drunk the water.
I can see better at night than I ever could before.
It is that good.
Danny Werfel: That is good.
Justin, do you want to add anything from your end on
stakeholder collaboration?
Justin Augustine: Well, absolutely.
As the mayor said, you can not be successful in these
communities if you don't involve the community.
Down in New Orleans, you know, we have a
multi faceted community.
And I am proud to say that each facet of that community -- I
mean the business community, I mean the political community,
I mean the neighborhoods.
I am talking about the Historical Society,
which is a very powerful group in New Orleans,
they have all championed this project.
They understand it.
They recognize what it does for our community.
And more importantly, we want to continue doing something that
the City of New Orleans has been doing since the 1800's,
providing viable transportation, that is green.
You are talking about clean energy,
streetcar projects are electric.
Therefore, there are no pollutants hitting our
environment and the community loves them.
And more importantly, they are fun to ride also.
I invite all of you guys to come down and ride them.
Danny Werfel: Thank you, Justin.
Let me -- let me close with a couple of thoughts.
You know, one of the lessons learned that we had, you know,
one of the challenges that both Congress and the President
placed on us in implementing the Recovery Act was to do so with
un-precedent and transparency.
We were going to let the world know exactly where
every dollar went.
And so we -- and we were charged with creating this website
called, which has a lot of information.
During the user testing when we were getting that website up and
running, this entity that was created called the recovery
board owned getting that up and running,
they did a lot of focus group testing.
And invariably, the public would come in and they would
immediately try to click down on a map to their community.
And it was an overwhelmingly clear response that what the
public wanted to know is how the dollars were being used in their
community versus any other issue.
There wasn't even a close second.
So when you go to Recovery.Gov right now,
you will see that it is very map focused in response
to this reaction.
But what it doesn't do and what it can't do is, for example,
tell the story that -- that Henry told.
You can drill down into -- into New York City and drill down and
you will see a dot over Staten Island and you will hit that dot
and it will give you some information and how much money
was received, and a description of the project.
It will even tell you how many jobs were funded with the money.
But you won't get a sense for the broader impacts that that
type of project has.
Not just the jobs that are created,
but the -- the traffic congestion opportunities
that are there.
The impact on the -- on the businesses that are surrounding
the ferry terminal, it is -- again it is something
that takes time to understand, to communicate on.
Bringing these groups together.
I encourage everyone to look past just that dot on the screen
in seeing what is happening with federal and state and local
dollars in your communities.
Understand that, that there is good and bad
with all of these projects.
But -- but when practical people like the people that are sitting
at this table are pushing to help make their communities
better, when the projects are well thought out,
when we can have the winds of job creation,
infrastructure development, environmental sustainability
come together, there is a lot of good things that are happening
in government programs and with government dollars,
and we need to replicate them and figure out what is working.
And so I appreciate everyone for being here today,
for helping us pull back some onion layers on these projects.
And I hope these -- this is the first of many dialogues to come.
Thank you.
Erin Hannigan: We are just going to get repositioned here
to start the second panel, so bear with us for just a second.
I think the first panel was a great discussion and I am
looking forward to the second panel.
Thank you again to Danny for your leadership on this topic
and your passion for this discussion.
We have another special guest joining us who will
be moderating the second panel.
We are honored to be joined by Larry Strickling who is an
Assistant Secretary at the Department Of Commerce and
Administrator of the National Telecommunications
Information Administration.
So, Larry.
Larry Strickling: Thank you, Erin.
Well, I think we have just heard from a great set of projects.
But you are now going to hear from six more
wonderful projects.
We are now going to shift a little bit and move into the
area of broadband for four of our projects,
two of which we funded out of the Department of Commerce,
two of which were funded by the US Department Of Agriculture's
Rural Utility Service.
And then we have two more EPA projects to hear from.
So let's get right into it.
Let me just give a little background on the broadband
programs of the two agencies.
In the Recovery Act, Congress appropriated over $6 billion to
try to expand broadband in underserved and unserved
areas in our country.
My agency, NTIA, funded about $4 billion worth of projects in the
rural utility service.
Agriculture funded about two and a half billion dollars
worth of projects.
At the end of last year, the projects that we funded at
Commerce have already deployed more than 40,000
miles of new fiber around the country.
We have connected over 6,000 hospitals, schools,
and libraries to these new facilities.
We have upgraded 28,000 computers in public computer
centers around the country, and through our sustainable
broadband adoption program we are encouraging people to learn
about broadband and to subscribe to it,
We have already got 275,000 new broadband subscribers.
At RUS, their program and the grants that they are funding,
are going to impact 7 million people in the country.
360,000 businesses and over 30,000 acres.
So you can see that these two programs are going to have a
significant impact in moving the scale,
in moving the needle on expanding broadband
availability and broadband adoption in this country.
But let's get right to our panelists.
Our focus here on innovation through infrastructure,
let me start with Don Welch from Merit Networks in Michigan.
And we like Don's program so well, we gave him two grants.
We had two rounds of funding and Merit hit the ball out of the
park in both of our rounds and received two grants.
But Don, give us a summary of your project and some of
the key factors for success that you see.
Don Welch: Sure. Thank you, sir.
Merit has had a vision for quite awhile of equal access to
information regardless of where you are located throughout the
State of Michigan.
And it is great to have a vision,
we didn't have any resources to get there.
When the BTOP Project came along,
we thought that this -- this would be a great opportunity.
And certainly the money provided by the BTOP Project helps a lot.
But Merit is -- is a nonprofit.
And our mission is focused on the research and education
community, so we could not go out and serve the
homes and businesses.
To do that, we had to not only bring in our community of the
research, education, libraries, government, et cetera,
but also providers who focus on the homes and businesses.
It doesn't do that much good to have great access in a school,
if you don't have access at home too.
So, for example, the University of Michigan and Michigan
Technical University, had research sites that were doing
some great research, but they were remote
and didn't have conductivity.
With our project now, they will be able to do data intensive
research, and go after new types of grants and do new types of
research and so forth.
School districts in rural and remote areas of Michigan are
having a lot of trouble with having a resources cut.
And Governor Snyder has tried to emphasize and has a major
initiative for them to share services to lower their costs.
If you are going to do that, you have to have a relationship with
the people you are going to be sharing services with and you
need a good network to connect them up.
And so in our community, we, we work a lot to build the
relationships within the community,
to get people to work together, to solve their own problems.
And, of course, when you get the -- the additional
infrastructure, it makes that much more return on
the working together.
But as I said, you need more.
Up in the Upper Peninsula, there are some engineers who were
going to do some maintenance on library network,
and the library director said, oh, wait a minute.
I got to tell the patrons.
And the library -- the engineer was like what, you are closed.
What patrons?
And he goes, oh, they are all out in the parking lot using
the wireless so that their kids can do their homework.
I got to let them know we are -- we are going to be down.
So you got to go -- we have to go further.
And to achieve that vision, we need to bring in private
sector providers.
We started off with an open call and we had over 40 private
providers who were interested.
Eventually, we came down, we have 7 sub recipients on our two
grants and they are the ones, they are making the investments,
they are taking the risks, and they are
expanding their services.
They are not only expanding the services that they provide,
but they are expanding their service areas.
So the areas are receiving more value,
they are -- there is more competition.
Generally, better for the residents of Michigan over all.
A wide diversity.
Their telephone companies.
Their cooperatives of telephone companies.
Their cable companies.
Their Internet service providers.
And they are the ones who are taking the risk and they are
going to see some benefit.
But existing companies, who are not directly involved in
our grant are also getting the benefits.
There is a cable company in northeast Michigan that had
five separate service areas.
And they have been operating giving their customers Internet
access just over T1's.
Well, with this project, we can connect those service areas,
so they can consolidate their head ends and give their --
their customers things like digital TV and so forth.
And now instead of getting their Internet conductivity over T1's,
they are getting it, they are getting over
fiber optic connection.
We -- we are buying infrastructure where
we can from existing builds, those companies who had decided
to make the investment themselves.
When we come in and buy some of their infrastructure,
they get a return on investments faster.
So that they can then reinvest in the community.
So there is a lot of multiplicative effects here.
So the key for us, was to leverage the partnerships that
we had throughout Michigan within our community and within
the state, and then the funding through BTOP and try to push
that out and help Michigan and it's residents move forward and
succeed in the coming years.
Larry Strickling: Thank you, Don.
Now, I think partnerships and collaboration are a theme we'll
hear throughout this, the rest of this afternoon.
And let me turn to Philip at the city
of Worcester, Massachusetts.
Tell us how partnerships played an important role in your water
project there.
Philip Guerin: Well, Larry, our project consists of 125 kilowatt solar
electric array built on the roof and the ground
of our water filtration plant that provides about
25 million-gallons a day of clean drinking water for the
people of Worcester and surrounding communities.
That plant was built in 1997, that was practically brand
new by most infrastructure standards.
But it uses a very energy intensive treatment process,
using ozone generators.
And that ozone is generated using electricity.
So there is a big electric demand at that plant.
The history of -- of the solar project there is really one of
a great partnership though.
It began with an energy management pilot of 7 waste
water treatment plants in 7 water treatment plants
undertaken by the Department Of Environmental Protection
in Massachusetts.
And it's partners with the environmental agencies Executive
Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and EPA.
That energy management pilot looked at ways of saving energy
as well as green energy, renewable energy options
for these treatment plants.
From that there were a number of you know green renewable energy
ideas that were offered for Worcester's treatment plant.
Unfortunately, they are all very capital intensive and they would
not have happened without Stimulus money.
They would have sat on the shelf collecting dust with
many other reports.
But the Stimulus money came through and funded these
projects in total.
So across Massachusetts, there were 18 similar projects funded.
Including Worcester.
Worcester ended up with 130,000-kilowatt hours
production by solar power that is being used to offset
some of the electrical needs of our plant.
And the city is saving about $15,000 annually
as a result of that.
State-wide, these solar projects at waste water and water
treatment plants generate about 5.6 million-kilowatt hours of
electricity and are saving collectively over $700,000.
But the real key here is the partnership.
This was a case where everybody wins.
The Federal Government which is very much interested in --
in the renewable green energy sector,
and in putting people to work through the Stimulus funds,
got a victory here.
The State Government, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is
trying to create a solar energy industry in Massachusetts so
that that state becomes a leader in this field.
Big victory for them by having all of these public sector
projects done as examples of what can be done with
solar energy.
And for the city of Worcester, we are a green community.
That is a state designation, that recognizes municipalities
who have a concerted effort to save energy and to use
renewable energy.
We are a community that is dedicated to that cause.
So this fits in perfectly with our desires and needs.
We are also a community with aging water infrastructure.
And we are looking for ways to improve that infrastructure,
whether it be drinking water, waste water, or storm water.
And looking to improve it, but also keep our rates affordable
for the citizens of the city of Worcester.
So this partnership was really one about everyone getting a
victory out of it.
So we talked about the last panel that was -- the win/win,
and then the win/win/win.
So we are getting a win for the federal government,
a win for the state, and a win for the city of Worcester.
And it is really a model that I think should go forward with all
inter governmental relationships.
When we are working with the federal,
state and local governments, a partnership that recognizes and
gives equal billing to local needs, local priorities,
as well as state and federal priorities.
That is the type of partnership that will lead this country in a
great direction and one we need to advance.
Larry Strickling: Thank you, Philip.
So we have heard from a state, we have heard from a city.
How about let's go deep into rural America,
and we are going to go to South Dakota and Janelle Jessen from
Venture Communications.
So Janelle, tell us about what the differences are that your
project is creating for the citizens in your service area.
Janelle Jessen: Thank you.
It is truly an honor to be here.
I feel like this is a recognition for Venture
as a whole, not -- not for me.
So I would like to talk about kind of what we did there.
We -- we bought in 2008, we acquired a small telephone
company called Western Telephone Company.
And we evaluated a number of different options to try to
figure out how to get them broadband service and upgrade
the service that they had.
In rural America, it costs a lot of money to -- to put those
investments in -- into the ground,
to make -- to give those services available to the
subscribers, because there is just not very many of them.
Our subscriber base is sometimes one to two -- two subscribers
per square mile, so we are a very rural part of America.
Thankfully, the Stimulus money arrived kind of at the right
time for us to be able to utilize some of those funds to
help us put -- make that investment in that area.
What it has done for rural America,
broadband is vital for rural America.
I might even argue sometimes more vital than for urban areas,
because there is just not -- we don't have access to a lot of
different things.
We have local health care providers,
but there is no specialist, no -- no emergency service work is
-- is a little -- not as available as it is
in a larger area.
A major health care facility might be two
to three hours away.
You know, so it has provided options for telemedicine,
for some of our subscribers when they go to those local
facilities now, they can actually access the expertise
and information from specialists and from other health care
professionals in other areas.
Other things it has done for -- for rural America is,
it helps with educational opportunities.
Most of our local high schools offer distance learning.
They -- they don't always have the money to hire a teacher for
every particular area, so foreign languages has been
a particular area that has been used a lot with
distance learning.
Advanced placement classes to help people get into college
and then even more so on the adult side, you know,
again the -- the universities aren't close.
They are a long ways away.
So people are taking on line classes and advancing their
educational opportunities and getting degrees in some cases
that they may not be able -- have been able to do otherwise.
Some other things that our customers have used,
the broadband services for is telecommuting.
A lot of our subscribers actually work for a company
that is nowhere near where they live.
And in particular, medical transcription has been something
that a lot of our subscribers have used and helping hospitals
and clinics upload their -- their paper files that they
all have rooms full of into a database or online system.
And probably more specific to -- to where we live,
there is a lot of farmers and ranchers and a lot of
the ranchers have started using broadband services for on line
cattle auctions where it expands their buyers.
They increase their price as a result of having more
buyers available.
They still have an auction, they are still there.
It is there.
But it is broadcast on line.
People can be in New York or California and they can watch
and they can bid.
And like I said, it tends to increase the price that they
receive, because there is just more buyers bidding on -- on
their products.
So and I think that is just the tip of the iceberg.
I think there is going to be a lot more opportunities and
technology advancements to come that will certainly,
certainly just result in more use of the broadband services
that we have put in place.
Like I said, it is expensive to put -- to put that investment in
the ground and we are just relying on a stable revenue
stream to be able to pay back the investments that we have
already made and also continue to make investments
into the future.
Larry Strickling: Very good.
We'll all go home this evening and look for E Beef on line.
We also have with us the former Mayor of Edmonston, Adam Ortiz.
Welcome, Adam.
And I know you were involved in the same project that we heard
about a little bit earlier from Dr. Davis.
So let me ask you, your project rebuilding this thoroughfare in
your town and turning it into a green street.
How has it been received in the community?
And how has the project inspired interest in some of these green
issues in your town?
Adam Ortiz: Thank you, Larry.
And first, I want to thank the administration,
particularly the staff for this recognition for my community and
for our project.
We are tremendously grateful.
The project has been a success.
I think we were wise mentioning your comment
earlier about partnerships.
We couldn't have achieved what we did I think without
leveraging partnerships.
We are a very small community of about 1,400 people.
Smaller than a high school.
We are very working class community.
We are about equal parts, White, Black, and Hispanic.
And I like to say that we are diverse in every way,
except we don't have any rich people.
So as a result, our tax base is pretty humble.
Larry Strickling: You are fully 99 percent.
Adam Ortiz: We are fully 99 percent.
So but we did feel a sense of responsibility, we -- our town,
it straddles the Anacostia River,
which is a very impaired waterway,
which eventually feeds into the Chesapeake Bay.
But from the get go, our community has been very involved
because we have been the victims of environmental neglect.
We flooded for several years from water upstream that ran
off of parking lots, and streams and roads,
and ended up in our little town.
Because we are downstream from a lot of
these other communities.
We were able to adjust that problem with help from your
county government.
But what we learned is that all of us, no matter where we are,
have responsibility for what we build and how we live.
And all of us have responsibility for spending our
tax dollars as citizens.
So we sat at the table and we were like, hey, you know,
our roads are running, their expiration date is coming up
soon, and they need to be replaced.
And how can we be as responsible as possible?
So at the table, we had tremendous representation
from the community, we had environmentalists,
we had planners, we had the Chesapeake Bay Trust which has
been a tremendous partner.
And we had kids, a nine-year-old girl was the at table.
And we said, how can we do this best?
How can we learn the lessons from lessons
that -- of our experience?
So from top to bottom, everybody had a say and
we redesigned our street.
Something that we take for granted everyday when we get
in our cars and go to work.
So from the canopy overhead, we planted a native,
large canopy trees to replace a lot of the smaller invasive
trees, non-native trees.
We replaced our streetlights with LED,
high powered LED lights, which have turned out to save about 70
percent on our street lighting bills and have made brighter
safer streets so people are much more comfortable.
We made 88 compliant sidewalks, added bike lanes,
because our street is a public space.
It is not just a space for cars.
It is something that belongs to the community.
Not just a vehicle as we rush to get to work every day.
And importantly, based on our flooding experience,
we designed the streets so that 90 percent of the storm water
that lands on the street is absorbed right in the area.
It goes right into the ground like it did years ago.
It doesn't go into the storm drain.
It doesn't go into the gutter and we don't send the pollution
and this water to somebody else far away.
We wanted to take responsibility.
So having that buy-in from the community at the get go, Larry,
really created a strong sense of investment among our residents
and as a ripple effect, we were able to show with the support of
the Obama Administration and their help and their Recovery
Act, to show that if a small working class community like
ours can take responsibility to this level,
other communities can and all communities
should take such responsibility.
And the Chesapeake Bay Trust represented by Dr. Davis a
little bit earlier, they have been pioneering basically a
ripple effect grant program with partnership with EPA,
and also funding working class communities to -- to transform
their main streets as community spaces that
are fully responsible.
So -- so I would say that the program has been received very,
very well.
And we have a lot of partners to thank,
and I don't think I have enough time on this panel
to -- to name them all.
Larry Strickling: Thank you, Adam.
Again, we are -- every one of our panelists both in this panel
and the last panel have talked about the impacts these projects
have had.
And let me turn to Amber Benson from the West Virginia,
PCS Alliance.
Tell us a little bit about how the communities that you are
serving and how they have been impacted by your project.
Amber Benson: Certainly. Let me begin by saying that I am deeply
honored to be here this afternoon to discuss the
nTelos Wireless broadband Initiatives Program Project.
Our project would not have been successful without the hard work
and commitment of many nTelos Wireless employees.
Our vendors, Alcatel-Lucent, Design Telecom,
and Paul Meadow Engineering, and the RUS team,
and our field representative, Richard Jenkins,
but the true beneficiaries of the grant are the citizens that
live, work, and play in our project areas.
Berkeley County, West Virginia, Franklin County, Pennsylvania,
and Washington County, Maryland.
Prior to our project completion in 2011,
these communities only had access to 1X service on their
mobile devices.
1X service basically limits the customer to a slow Internet
experience, similar to dial up.
With the upgrade to 3G high speed mobile broadband,
users in the area now enjoy a much faster,
and application rich experience on their mobile devices and
laptop computers.
Plus the portability of mobile broadband provides an enormous
advantage to the average -- app average American who spends his
or her day on the go, but needs connectivity
at their fingertips.
For the millions of Americans who enjoy broadband service
every day, it seems difficult to think back to dial up Internet
service, or even the complete lack of access to the Internet.
But many communities today suffer with this.
And with the lack of broadband service,
which puts their population at risk of being left behind in
the digital age.
The citizens in Berkeley County, Washington County,
and Franklin County can now keep pace with our
ever connected society.
They can apply for jobs on line, telecommute, distance learn,
do their tax filings, on line banking, et cetera.
Which are all now possible with the mobile device or laptop with
our service.
Hagerstown, one of the affected areas,
is the fastest growing area in Maryland and often referred to
as a hub city, because of the convergence of Interstate 70
and 81 and many rail lines in the region.
Since they serve as a commercial and industrial center for the
tristate area, it is simply unfathomable -- unfathomable,
that they didn't have broadband access before.
If we go over to Berkeley County in West Virginia,
that is one of the nation's fastest growing counties.
Close in proximity to the nation's Capitol,
Berkeley County has been successful in attracting big
business in workers commuting here.
With that, comes a demand of reliable broadband service,
to serve the growing population.
With our service now they can keep connected at home
and on the go.
And, finally, we have Franklin County in Pennsylvania.
The area steeped in Civil War history,
but it was time for residents to move into the 21st century.
This community has a bountiful selection of outdoor activities,
historic places, and a thriving art scene and now it has the
life line that broadband access provides.
For those in the audience, think about what you will do when you
leave here today.
You will likely use your mobile device to check your email,
maybe pay for parking in the area,
watch a video your daughter posted on Facebook of your
grandchild's first steps.
Book a flight, make dinner reservations.
Perhaps your brother has been out of work and uses his
broadband access to apply for jobs or financial assistance.
Maybe your wife is taking classes on line to finish
her degree.
Telecommuting for work for you three days a week helps cut down
on your travel time to the office and reduces
your carbon footprint.
All of these things wouldn't be possible in a community without
broadband access, simple things that we all take
for granted today.
On behalf of nTelos Wireless I would like to thank the
Department of Agriculture's Rural Utility Service for
providing the program grant to our company.
Enhancing the lives of our customers is a core value for
us and I can think of no better enhancement than to offer high
speed mobile broadband in these unserved and underserved areas.
Larry Strickling: Great. Thank you, Amber.
And I am sure for those folks that are still stuck in the
1800's up there in Washington County and Franklin county,
at least they can use broadband to celebrate the Civil War's
susqua centennial.
Amber Benson: That is exactly right.
Larry Strickling: So -- so before I turn to our last speaker,
I would just like to mention that in our grant program,
Don referred to it as BTOP, which may have surprised some
of you who don't know our acronyms.
That stands for broadband Technology
Opportunities Program.
But we -- we have many, many worthy projects around the
country and I urge you to go on-site and take a look at our
website to learn more about our projects.
And I would like to acknowledge two other very successful
projects that are at least represented in the audience,
although not on stage today.
And that is Laurie Sherwood and others from the Howard County
project, which actually covers the entire State of Maryland.
Not just Howard county.
And Robert Mancini who has been leading a terrific effort here
in Washington, D.C. on a major infrastructure project.
Let me turn to Joe Freddoso from North Carolina.
And Joe also is a double dipper in the sense that his program
has earned two broadband grants from the Department of Commerce.
We have talked a little bit about how these projects served
to prime the pump for additional investment, not -- you know,
creating jobs for the project itself,
but then creating opportunities for other businesses.
And I know that has been particularly true
with your project.
So tell us a little bit about what you are doing and how you
have actually been priming the pump of new investment.
Joe Freddoso: Thank you, Larry.
And thank you for the recognition today.
Not just for me, but for the entire team at MCNC.
We are very proud of this.
You know, a couple of things.
We are very similar to Don.
The story you heard about Don.
We are a research and education network that serves community
anchor institutions in North Carolina.
Our university system, our community college system,
all of our local school districts,
30 nonprofit hospitals, 30 charter schools,
a partridge and a pear tree, and others use our network
on a daily business for Intranet and Internet access.
I think one of the things that we always think about is our
network is something that makes dreams reality, right?
Research that happens on our network makes dreams reality.
Whether that research is a genomic's noble prize winner,
at UNC Chappell Hill and Oliver Smith,
he is doing research over Internet 2 with our connection
to David Lambert, who is in the audience and Internet 2,
with a -- with a co-genomic's researcher at Stanford,
or whether it is a third grade girl in a rural school district
who is downloading a video to enhance her power point,
we serve all of those needs every day.
What we found in North Carolina was,
is we looked out five years down the road for the capacity
demands of those community anchor institutions,
we are going to out strip particularly in rural North
Carolina, the capacity of the networks that were in place.
There were mainly copper infrastructure that needed to be
replaced and upgraded to fiber.
So this program gave us the great opportunity to build
2600-miles of contiguous fiber, make 140 million-dollar
investment in broadband infrastructure in rural North
Carolina and enable those community anchor institutions
to grow and thrive at pretty fixed costs over the next 20
to 25 years.
And meet their needs.
We are talking not about ten gig production speeds,
but about hundred gig production speeds that
support that research, that support that learning,
that support job creation in North Carolina.
Larry's question was around what are the immediate -- what are
the immediate effects and then what are the long-term effects?
The immediate effects are obviously that we have 40
crews of ten to 20 people working on installing fiber
everyday out in the field.
Rick Johnson is here from CommScope, that supplies fiber,
conduit, and all of the outside plant materials to both Don's
project and my project.
CommScope is a great Hickory, North Carolina company that we
are very proud of, but Rick was just telling me beforehand that
a conduit plant that was basically idle before the BTOP
program is now at full capacity.
So those immediate impacts happen.
People are back at work.
They are supplying materials to us.
What happens in the future?
Well, I will share one story with you.
Larry came with us and attended a ground breaking ceremony we
had for the round two award in August.
And we sat at a place called Kannapolis, North Carolina.
Kannapolis, North Carolina was the site of the largest layoff
in 2003, in North Carolina history.
Pillowtex lost 3,000 employees in one day.
On that site, David Murdoch who was a senior officer at
Pillowtex at that time, and is now chairman and CEO of Dole
Foods has built a multimillion, multi hundred million dollar
research campus that is doing research in genomics,
life extension, nutrition.
They didn't have fiber until our BTOP award.
The fiber that we will supply them will allow great research
equipment, one of a kind research equipment that exists
in Kannapolis, North Carolina to be utilized in the wide area.
Across states, across the country, around the world.
It has created jobs in Kannapolis.
There is a community college program that has been enabled
that is training lab assistants to operate this gear.
This is about dreaming big.
You know, today when we start to look at and Amber put it well,
when you start to look at our speeds and feeds today that we
think about, even our standards that we have today from the FCC,
we are going to look at those standards in five
years like dial up.
When we start to talk about enabling health care on line,
so that a patient doesn't have to move -- a patient doesn't
have to move a health risk from their home to a hospital to get
diagnosed every or get evaluated every three or four months,
you need a broadband connection to enable that patient to
interface with their doctor, to manage their vitals and monitor
their vitals, and we need to start thinking
about these things.
So I think when you look at Don and mine's state-wide projects,
it is about scaling to the future.
Which is exactly the type of investments we should
be making today.
It is about enabling health care.
It is about economic development.
In North Carolina, 30 percent of our homes have home based
businesses and they are going to grow on line.
It is about getting this technology that we are putting
in into the last mile, by public private partnership.
So, Larry, I think when you look at the immediate term impacts of
creating jobs, the 1,200 or so I think are miniscule of what the
long-term impact of this is going to be on the economic
vitality and the health of our nation.
Larry Strickling: Great. And I think that is a great place to end our panel.
So please join me in thanking our panelists.
So it gives me great pleasure now to introduce my friend and
colleague, Jonathan Adelstein, the Administrator of the Rural
Utilities Service for some closing remarks.
Jonathan Adelstein: Well, thank you, Larry.
What a great panel.
What a great set of awardees we have here today.
It is wonderful to be with you all and a great privilege to be
with such leaders.
They really are an inspiration.
They didn't get here easily.
It wasn't easy to get that first grant under the Recovery Act.
These are extremely competitive.
A lot of folks were looking for these projects and they
were very carefully selected.
And I think to pat ourselves on the back,
Larry and I did a pretty good job based on these folks.
But even after that step, they took another step to become the
Champions of Change, to represent the best of the best,
in terms of what they do.
And they are the ones who made it happen.
We were fortunate enough to be in a position to recognize your
great talent, but you are the ones who are changing and
transforming your communities.
You are the ones who are making the vision a reality.
They seem very humble here today,
but they really have made great accomplishments.
I would like another round of applause for
our Champions of Change.
Good job.
Larry and I worked very closely hand in hand throughout this
process, and as I think about it,
we are so close to President's Day,
I am a historian by training.
It is hard not to think of President Obama's favorite
President, President Lincoln, who on occasion like this once
said, "I know of nothing so pleasant to the mind as the
rediscovery of anything which is what once new and valuable."
Each one of our partners here, our champions,
certainly have brought something new and valuable to our nation.
They have really represented the best of our country,
they embody the President's challenge to win the future.
They have created an America that is built to last.
Your stories, we have heard about ingenuity today,
we have heard about a lot of hard work it took
to make these happen.
They -- they took a lot of ingenuity to figure out how
to make it happen.
All of these great, different ideas,
but then to actually bring them into reality,
to create the community involvement that it took,
to strengthen your community's infrastructure,
it is really a -- something that inspires my confidence in our
future, and in our ability to continue to expand on this
economic recovery which is underway,
and it is really a can do America that we have heard from
all of our Champions Of Change here today.
And there is a real vision, I think we heard behind the
Recovery Act that is embodied in these champions,
a broader vision that like President Lincoln,
President Obama, understands that we are one nation,
that we are one economy that must be strong in all regions
from rural, to urban.
We heard on this panel, and on the other,
from north to south and east to west.
Embracing a real national infrastructure strategy.
The President crafted an economic plan that brought
the nation back from the brink to this recovery we
are seeing today.
He focused on opportunities to create jobs immediately as these
systems are being built.
We heard about the people's lives who are uplifted by
building these and jobs to follow when they come on line.
And jobs as these systems are built.
And certainly, many more jobs into the future as these new
networks become the platforms for innovation and job creation
for years to come.
Citizens and communities and businesses alike are going to
use these networks for transportation,
for telecommunications, for water and environmental
improvements, for efficient energy, delivery technologies,
to create new and sustainable economic opportunities.
So our Champions Of Change are the real spark plugs of this
engine of economic growth.
I think you are worthy of our thanks for moving America into
high gear.
You saw the Super Bowl?
We all saw Clint Eastwood.
I think he was right when he said,
the world is going to hear the roar of our engines.
We are just getting revved up here.
And, of course, like a proud father,
I am especially thrilled about today's two RUS broadband
initiatives programs participants that come
one from my home state of South Dakota,
it is hard not to think of folks like that.
Venture communications and your whole team.
My good friend Randy Hodack who works there.
Really bringing world class broadband to Highmore,
South Dakota.
The broadband there is going to be as good as it is anywhere in
downtown Manhattan, here in DC, and that is the way
it should be.
That is what the Communications Act says, comparable service,
comparable price, no matter where you are.
And in West Virginia, the PCS Alliance,
Amber Benson talked about, is going to bring a quality
of wireless service that is second to none.
That is the equivalent of what you get here in these greatest
cities and largest cities in the country.
The hardest to serve areas of West Virginia, Maryland,
and Pennsylvania.
They are and so many more are bringing really
leadership that we need.
And all of that has one thing in common as I sort of think
about the themes of today, the one theme is connection.
Our nation is great because we value our connections to each
other, to our environment, to our health, to our future,
rural and urban.
Whether it is a road or a power line,
whether it is a water main or strand of fiber.
These connections tie our citizens together into a
more perfect union.
You heard a lot today about our aging infrastructure.
President Obama has recognized that it is time to upgrade
America's aging infrastructure.
Many of our electric lines or telecommunications lines and our
pipe lines, that are carrying not only water,
but hazardous materials and energy sources were installed,
over half of them before 1970 and many much earlier.
My agency itself has replaced some water lines that are old
wood pipes that are nearly a century old.
Well, it was our ancestors that built those networks,
and it was our grandfathers and great grandfathers and fathers
that were involved in building out that infrastructure and it
was well built.
We are still using it today.
But even that excellent and important infrastructure doesn't
last forever.
It wears out.
We have always seen ourselves as a world leader.
And to new technologies and infrastructure,
and US now finds itself in need of new investment,
investments that this administration is making.
Investments that these champions are building out.
We can't always rely on the massive investments that our
forbearers made 50 or a hundred years ago,
those systems lasted a long time.
But today's champions are building the systems that
our children and our grandchildren will use.
I think that our children and grandchildren will look back and
thank us in some room like this someday,
saying they built some great systems but time
to rebuild them again.
But I know the quality of work that these folks are doing,
the kind of engineering they are putting into it,
the kind of thought they are putting into it,
the kind of detail and the kind of hard work and the kind of
resources are truly building a foundation for the future and
these systems are built to last.
So we bring this program to a close.
I want to carry today's inspiration forward.
We want to keep this momentum going.
There is a long way to go in repairing our
nation's infrastructure.
We have heard some great inspirational stories.
There is a lot more to go.
So to quote again, President Lincoln,
"Let us strive on to finish the work we are in."
Thank you all for coming.
I thanks our champions for coming far and wide from all
across America to be with us here today at their own expense
I might add.
And we thank you for that.
And to all of our -- their teams back home,
I know that all of you said today that it really was your
team that were the ones that propelled you here into the
White House today and we want to thank all of you.
We want to thank your teams.
And we want to thank all of you who are here today,
thanks for coming to DC.
And congratulations to all of our champions.
Erin Hannigan: Thank you, Jonathan.
I wanted to close it out by simply thanking Jonathan,
thank you to Larry, and thank you to our earlier speakers for
-- for helping us today moderating these discussions.
But I most of all wanted to thank our champions again for
all of their great work and their continued great
work hopefully.
And telling us, telling their story.
Again, if you want to learn more about our champions,
that were here on the second panel or our earlier champions,
go to:
You can learn more about them.
Read their Blogs about the work that they are doing and we hope
to stay in touch with them and hear continued great work.
And now I want to also mention another thank you to all of our
partners that made this happen.
You might have seen a trend with our speakers.
We had a speaker from each of the agencies that -- that
nominated our champions.
From the Department of Transportation, the EPA,
NTA with the Department of Commerce,
and RUS with the Department of Agriculture.
So I wanted to thank them for all of their work and all of our
other partners with the Recovery Act.
But I just wanted to close it out by one more final round of
applause for our champions and thanks for coming today.