Leadership in a Time of Crisis: Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank

Crises are inevitable, but there is no way to know ahead of time what form they will take. You can anticipate and prepare for likely challenges, like hurricanes, fires or computer hacks. The great challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, was the speed with which this highly unlikely event reached crisis status.

The best time to prepare for an “unknown” crisis, like COVID, is before it happens, and a large part of optimal preparation is sound and up-to-date organizational guiding principles. At the Infrastructure Bank, our commitment to recruiting and training a first-class team of professionals that adapted quickly to the crisis was at the core of our ability to continue to serve the people of Rhode Island.

The importance of supporting jobs and payrolls in the current economy makes it even more essential that the Bank continue to innovate and cut through red tape to make infrastructure projects a reality. To do this, we work with municipalities, quasi-state agencies, local utilities, businesses and building owners to accelerate infrastructure investments that plan for the future – protecting jobs and paychecks in the process.

Throughout the pandemic, we moved quickly to disburse over $27 million into our economy to support municipalities, their contractors, vendors, and employees. We continue to prioritize new investment to support jobs and workforce development and are proud to have supported 2,700 jobs this year.

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Infrastructure never takes a remote day and our current environment renders urban living spaces, green infrastructure and clean water even more important. Recently, we helped several communities replace contaminated drinking water systems, upgrade wastewater facilities, replace roads, create urban green spaces, and plant trees to improve air quality. Projects have also incorporated 21st-century-jobs training for the State’s youth and adults.

Local businesses and building owners have been severely affected by COVID-19. In recent weeks, we have been speaking with them about our C-PACE program, a financing tool that can free up operating funds and preserve capital. C-PACE provides long-term, fixed rate, 100% financing for clean energy and energy efficiency projects. Perhaps more importantly, C-PACE can also finance investments to make buildings healthier for employees and tenants. To date, the program has created $15.5 million in cash-savings for Rhode Island businesses from reduced energy consumption.

While the COVID crisis lingers, events across the country highlighted a different kind of crisis – one that has simmered for centuries and goes to the heart of who we are as a society. Strong infrastructure creates an environment where opportunity can flourish, but without a fair and just society, we will never achieve our full potential. As a nation, we need to do better. At RIIIB, we are committed to diversity and fairness, and are prepared to do our part to work with the community to achieve it.

We look forward to continue our work with all Rhode Islanders to make our state a better, more just place to live, work and play – with opportunity for all.

Jeffrey R. Diehl
Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank

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