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“Don’t waste a good crisis.”

Attributed to Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago mayor and Chief-of-Staff to President Barack Obama, one of the most oft used clichés is, “don’t waste a good crisis.”  

Never in our lifetime have we experienced a pandemic crisis with the combination of health and economic impacts as the current COVID-19.  The impacts have been incalculable, both real and perceived.  

Never has the federal government responded to a pandemic crisis with stimulus actions totaling nearly 10 TRILLION dollars.  In time economists will be able to analyze the effects of the stimulus actions, and how successful they were in mitigating the COVID impacts.  

COVID has impacted the Franklin County economy in the same ways that others have been affected across the state and nation.  And while I understand the importance of addressing the immediate needs of businesses and families, we need to be looking at the opportunities that can be expected in a post-pandemic economy.  

READ: Good things happening around the county

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Beginning in what I think will be calendar year 2022, the economic recovery will begin in earnest.  Many companies are going to begin the process of reshoring in America-pharmaceuticals, medical devices, equipment manufacturing, agricultural products, etc.  

To fully capitalize on those opportunities REQUIRES an investment in rebuilding and expanding our national infrastructure; roads, electric grids, natural gas lines, water and sewer lines, and BROADBAND.  

Infrastructure is the foundation of economic development. Our future success depends on it being fully functional with adequate capacity to accommodate future growth.    

Here’s how to do it

Quite candidly, Congress needs to pass a $3 Trillion Infrastructure Bill. It would represent an investment in our future and position the United States for what could be unprecedented growth.  

Building the infrastructure in and of itself will create tens of thousands of jobs across the Country. When completed the anticipated investments associated with reshoring, expansions and new industry start-ups will create and retain millions of jobs.  

Here, in Franklin County, there is a third and very direct benefit.  We are home to three of the major original equipment manufacturers (and their suppliers) who build the equipment that builds the infrastructure.

Specifically, I am referring to Manitowoc Crane Group, JLG Industries, and Volvo Construction Equipment.  They are three of the largest manufacturing companies in our region. Passage of an infrastructure bill would increase production demands and with-it employment. Between the three OEMs and their local/regional suppliers, hundreds of jobs would be created locally.

For the last 19 years, the FCADC along with our stakeholder partners has lobbied for infrastructure legislation to widen I-81.  The canned response from our congressional representatives has always been one of empathy but no action: “We understand your concern but that’s a lot of money and we simply don’t have it.”  

The COVID crisis has proven that Congress can find financial resources in whatever amounts they want when they want to.

So, I am requesting of Congressman Joyce, and Senators Toomey and Casey that they not waste this crisis. Invest in our future.  Pass an infrastructure bill! 

Written 5/22/2020 by: 

​L. Michael Ross

​President, Franklin County Area Development Corporation

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