There is so much available funding it can be difficult to know how to access it

Government can be extremely confusing, and it is often difficult to get information about how things work. So, now that there is so much public funding available for projects of all types, it seems important to raise the visibility of good funding sources and try to help people know how to access them.

Infrastructure investment authorities are usually state-level organizations that operate like banks. They consolidate state funding to help finance local infrastructure projects. Given their authority to award grants and loans, they are often chosen to also oversee federal formula funding allocations available to all states. That’s important to know because not all states operate like this, but many do. When this is the case, these authorities provide technical assistance, disburse funding or provide low-interest loans for eligible projects. This is where to start asking questions about funding.

State investment authorities have already had a major impact on local infrastructure, but their roles have recently expanded even more. In many states, infrastructure banks and rural infrastructure authorities are now steering federal funding and support from ARPA, IIJA and numerous other federal programs. The support goes to infrastructure projects…but keep in mind that the term infrastructure covers almost every important component of a country. That means almost any type of project can be made to qualify.

Last year, Nevada’s State Board of Finance expanded its financing capacity to include new sources of support for a wider array of local developments. State officials allocated $75 million as an initial deposit in the expanded Nevada State Infrastructure Bank (SIB). That amount includes $40 million for projects identified through the Federal Infrastructure Matching Account, $20 million for projects identified through the Affordable Housing Revolving Account and $15 million for projects to be funded through the Charter School Capital Needs Revolving Account. The Nevada SIB’s financing authority now extends to local projects involving transportation facilities, utility enhancements, sustainability upgrades, renewable energy upgrades, water and wastewater repairs and economic development initiatives.

Photo courtesy of the Ohio Department of Transportation State Infrastructure Bank

In North Carolina, the state’s Department of Commerce oversees monies from the Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) and also the federal Community Development Block Grant program, the Rural Grant program and many others. At the end of April 2023, the RIA announced it would award nine grants to localities to attract $50 million more in private investment for projects. A grant of $1.1 million was awarded to North Carolina’s Craven County through the RIA’s Industrial Development Fund account which will help deliver a new access road linking a transportation corridor to a new industrial park development. County officials will use the grant to leverage private capital investment in the $27 million project, which is scheduled to go to bid for construction in 2024.

State lawmakers in South Carolina have assigned support and funding authority to the state’s Infrastructure Investment Program (SCIIP). It will deliver funding for clean drinking water, sanitary sewers and stormwater resilience. A report from the previous year indicates that 80% of recent funds were awarded in support of projects that address local health and environmental concerns and the remaining 20% supported infrastructure improvements that foster economic development. At the end of April 2023, the SCIIP announced a new round of awards for water and wastewater upgrades, which amounts to a combined $1.37 billion in funding. One grant of $10 million was awarded to the city of Aiken for a new water treatment plant. The award should spur further investment in the $45 million project.

The Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA) administers grants and loan assistance to localities for water and wastewater projects at the local levels of government. State officials are currently working to determine which projects will be included. One project is a multi-phased expansion of a water treatment plant that will extend service to communities in both Crittenden and Livingston counties. KIA support will also be used to cover funding gaps in a $15.1 million effort to extend a waterline from the Crittenden-Livingston County Water District’s treatment plant to the city of Marion. Additionally, the KIA identified a $17.5 million loan request from the Hopkinsville Water Environment Authority for a sewer line within the local water district. That project will be funded, and construction will be started in September of this year.

As an extension of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development, the Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) will allocate funding for projects that include water management, solid waste disposal, sewage treatment, stormwater mitigation, pollution control and brownfield remediation. In January 2023, PENNVEST awarded $236 million in grants and loans to 17 counties for water projects. Then on April 21, the investment authority awarded another $200 million to 23 additional projects. One of the largest funding allocations from this most recent disbursement was a $59.1 million low-interest loan for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. That funding will advance a project to replace 56 miles of sewer lines over four phases—all of which will launch between this year and 2025.

In Texas, the state’s transportation commission coordinates with the Federal Highway Administration to support projects through a SIB. The Texas-based SIB is responsible for a cumulative $8.1 billion that can be accessed for transportation projects.

Rhode Island’s Infrastructure Bank (RIIB) is responsible for financing projects that impact communities, businesses and residents. That means projects can range from water and wastewater initiatives, roads and bridges, renewable energy, brownfield remediation and other infrastructure improvements that encourage job creation, economic development and environmental enhancements. As of April 2023, the RIIB has driven more than $2.5 billion in investments. A $350,000 award for the city of Pawtucket will support a new pedestrian bridge over the Seekonk River to provide better access to a new soccer stadium.

As difficult as it is to keep track of the dozens of programs with available funding, diligence and patience will be more than rewarding for companies seeking certain types of projects over the next several years.