Symposium Explores Public-Private Partnerships

February 23, 2015 —

Most of the challenges we have as a nation can be overcome when Republicans and Democrats work together, said Congressman John Delaney (L’88), speaking at Georgetown Law’s Public-Private Partnership Symposium on February 19. To do that, he said, “We have to … embrace the notion that each side has some pretty good ideas.” 

The symposium was the third in a series convened by the Law Center examining how private entities can partner with government to revitalize America’s critical infrastructure. Years of underinvestment have degraded the nation’s bridges, railroads and other systems, jeopardizing national security, health and safety, and global competitiveness.

But by combining expertise and funds from the public and private sectors — and ideas from across the political spectrum — these challenges can be transformed into opportunities that benefit consumers and investors alike. “For every dollar we spend on infrastructure, we get about a dollar ninety two of economic growth,” said Delaney, who is currently co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill combining infrastructure investment with corporate tax reform.

McGraw-Hill Financial’s President and CEO Douglas L. Peterson noted that it would cost the country $3.6 trillion to repair its infrastructure. The benefits of doing so are substantial, yet who will pay for it and how? “[T]he way to close the infrastructure funding gap is to have a coordinated public and private sector effort,” he said.

In a panel moderated by Professor Emma Coleman Jordan on “Rethinking Public Finance,” experts including Harriet Tregoning of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development explored partnerships among HUD, the Rockefeller Foundation and others to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. 

A panel moderated by Professor Chris Brummer looked at financial innovations such as the use of crowdfunding to raise capital. Would ordinary Americans invest in a sewer system? Maybe not, but it’s worked for the redevelopment of Tiger Stadium, said Fundrise’s Benjamin Miller. And popular support for a program can also drive political will, Brummer noted.

Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor, Matthew M. McKenna of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (L’75, LL.M.’78) and Associate Dean James Feinerman helped to host the symposium, co-sponsored by McGraw Hill Financial, CoBank and Capitol Peak Asset Management. “We are tapping into something that’s extremely important,” McKenna said. “The opportunity to bring together both the public and private sectors to [achieve] some mutual goals."

To view the webcast, click here. 

For more about the symposium, click here.

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