From coast to coast, countless American cities recently underwent an important exercise is assessing our region’s competitiveness when it comes to attracting the types of jobs and workers that are important to our economic future. The ongoing effort by Amazon to identify a home for its second corporate headquarters is forcing a lot of cities to assess their relative strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for infrastructure growth.
And in the end, there will be countless factors that go into Amazon’s final decision, some that cities can control and others they cannot. Whichever city ultimately claims the prize, I am quite sure it will be one that consistently demonstrates its commitment to investing in its infrastructure regardless of whether it is upgrading its current roads, bridges and railways or preparing for the future by upgrading its wireless capacity. Both are critical.
For almost any business, the transportation infrastructure is vitally important. Not only does it connect customers and employees to those businesses, the airways, the seaways and the roadways to supply us with the products necessary to run those operations and serve their communities. But infrastructure investment doesn’t end there.
In the new economy, if businesses – and the country – are going to successfully compete in the modern economy, we need to invest in the information superhighway as well. Most consumer-facing businesses are quickly transforming right before our eyes and every year, the percentage of sales done online or via hand-held apps continues to skyrocket. In that regard, countless businesses are rapidly approaching a day when much of future commerce will be dependent on online connectivity.
In fact, just a few weeks ago, the President discussed the concept of nationalizing the emerging 5G wireless infrastructure as a protection against potential foreign ownership of the network. That should tell all of us how vitally important this is. While it is a long shot at best that it would ever happen, the conversation demonstrates how important wireless infrastructure is to our local economies, our national economy, and yes, our national security.
Cities have an opportunity to get out ahead of this and ensure that they are correctly laying the building blocks of our future economy. The investments by past generations of leaders in developing our world class highway system, airports and seaports has returned exponential benefit to the national economy.
This generation of state and local leaders needs to help ensure our future economic prosperity by working together in concert with the builders of wireless networks to streamline and expedite the deployment of next generation infrastructure that will serve to as the backbone for 5G networks.
We at Americans for a Modern Economy are committed to ensuring that local, state and federal policies reflect changing technologies that are reshaping the way consumers, businesses and communities operate in the 21st century economy. To that end, we must be forward thinking in our approach to connectivity because our future prosperity and economic competitiveness depend on it.
Joe Rinzel is the Executive Director of Americans for a Modern Economy. For more information, please go to www.americansforamoderneconomy.org.