Opinion: Second annual Rhode Island Infrastructure Summit to focus on investments, progress and highlight future opportunities

Communities across Rhode Island rely on well-functioning infrastructure every day. From the roads we drive on to the water we drink, reliable, modern infrastructure is the foundation of healthy communities and our economy. At Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, our programs provide affordable financing for municipalities, small businesses and homeowners to build, maintain and upgrade infrastructure. At the Infrastructure Bank, we view infrastructure as more than just a basic service – it’s an essential component of a thriving economy.

Over the course of the Infrastructure Bank’s nearly 30-year history, we have invested over $2 billion in local infrastructure, creating or supporting more than 55,000 jobs in the process. The Infrastructure Bank’s investments are not only good for our economy, they also protect our environment. We continue to reduce our state’s reliance on imported fossil fuels by promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy projects located here in Rhode Island. The projects that we finance are helping Rhode Island’s clean energy sector expand and provide good jobs for our tradespeople. By investing in these projects, our programs improve the competitiveness of local businesses and keep tax burdens down through reduced energy costs.

To expand our commitment to strong infrastructure, clean energy and the environment, we hosted the first annual Infrastructure Summit in 2017. By empowering key stakeholders to collaborate on complex issues, the Summit acted as a platform for innovation across the public and private sectors. At our second annual Summit, professionals from various disciplines will discuss the pressing infrastructure issues of today and connect with leaders in the field who can make their projects possible.

This year, we are excited to welcome knowledgeable panelists and speakers, including elected officials, state agency subject matter specialists, representatives from non-profit organizations and experts in the private sector. These individuals will lead discussions on a wide range of infrastructure topics, including brownfields and solar, housing development, transportation and financing options. Our keynote speakers, Armand E. Sabitoni and Alan Rubin, are experts in construction disaster recovery and green infrastructure finance, respectively. Armand Sabitoni will provide valuable insights into how Rhode Island can continue to generate economic activity and jobs through infrastructure investment. Alan Rubin will lend his expertise to conversations at the nexus of natural disasters, economic development and the necessity for more resilient infrastructure systems.

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Like all communities across the country, Rhode Island cities and towns face a variety of infrastructure challenges, including school facility upgrades, high energy prices, stormwater management and costly road repairs. These challenges are further exacerbated by the threat of climate change, which has the potential to adversely affect much of our critical infrastructure. The Summit will offer community members an opportunity to learn in a collaborative setting and connect with resources to better prepare for the future.

The Infrastructure Bank is excited to be hosting the second annual Infrastructure Summit and we hope the wide range of speakers and topics will drive communal thinking on how, together, we can tackle Rhode Island’s greatest infrastructure challenges.

The Rhode Island Infrastructure Summit is being held at the Rhode Island Convention Center on Monday, September 17, 2018. To register for the Summit, please visit our registration page.

Jeffrey Diehl is the CEO of Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank.