The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) have signed a first-of-its-kind cooperative agreement to develop a port investment plan “toolkit” for use by port authorities looking to attract public and/or private capital to fund their infrastructure projects.
The toolkit will include guidance on writing grant applications and analyzing a project’s economic benefits, while providing referrals, references and examples of best practices.
“With extraordinarily tight federal and state budgets, and government programs which typically favor transportation projects that move people rather than cargo, port authorities will benefit from having what amounts to a reference manual that details how to successfully attract public-private partnerships, apply for grants and other assistance,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO.
The goal of the MARAD/AAPA cooperation agreement is for the two organizations to work together to develop tools that will assist ports in obtaining funding in a variety of ways. One way is to improve the chances of port authorities to get freight-related infrastructure projects into municipal planning organization and state transportation improvement plans to compete for transportation formula funding. Another way is to better position port projects for federal funding, such as for TIGER (Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery) and similar discretionary grants. Still another way is to assist ports in obtaining private-sector funding.
“The components we envision for this ‘toolkit’ will help ports make more compelling economic arguments to compete for government grants, along with private-sector funding opportunities,” said Mr. Nagle. “By providing ports with guidance on how to clearly identify their future needs and proposing the most cost-effective, sustainable and efficient solutions for their projects, the result should be an ‘investment grade’ plan that attracts outside investment.”
“We want to make sure that this project produces tools that are useful to ports and we’ll be seeking input from AAPA members,” noted Roger Bohnert, who, together with Lauren Brand, will head up MARAD’s portion of the project. Mr. Bohnert is the deputy associate administrator for Intermodal System Development at MARAD and Ms. Brand is the agency’s Office of Marine Highways & Passenger Services director.
Jean Godwin, AAPA’s executive vice president and general counsel, will serve as coordinator for the cooperative project.
Press Release, October 14, 2013