Build, Baby, Build

With the country mired in a recession and President-elect Obama assuming power next January, it is clear that federal infrastructure spendin
Small Business Trends
November 20, 2008 With the country mired in a recession and President-elect Obama assuming power next January, it is clear that federal infrastructure spending will increase substantially.

The President-elects proposed economic stimulus package includes billions of dollars dedicated to roads, bridges and other public works projects. He has also called for the creation of a $60 billion National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to help states fund infrastructure projects.

There is little doubt America's infrastructure needs upgrading. Traffic congestion is a national problem, roads and bridges are crumbling and levees along many of our waterways are at risk of collapse. A recent survey of state departments of transportation identified over 3,000 high priority bridge and road projects that lacked funding.

In addition to traditional infrastructure projects, spending on alternative energy projects will also go up. During his campaign the President-elect called for spending $150 billion over the next 10 years to promote green technologies, alternative sources of electricity and the creation of green collar jobs. Most of this money will likely be spent on alternative power generation using wind, solar and geothermal energy sources.

Alternative energy is also a worthy goal, and increasing federal spending to reduce carbon emissions and our dependence on foreign oil has broad bipartisan support.

This massive increase in infrastructure spending will create new opportunities for small businesses as the country rebuilds. There will be direct opportunities for small businesses in construction, transportation, manufacturing and other infrastructure related sectors.

There will also be opportunities to sell goods and services to the companies that are rebuilding America's infrastructure. In a down economy there are always businesses and industrial sectors that are performing relatively well. Targeting and gaining high-performing companies as customers is an excellent strategy for surviving and thriving in a recession.

The old cliche is it wasn't the prospectors who made it big during the gold rush; it was the folks who sold the picks and shovels. The coming infrastructure boom will require a lot of picks and shovels and a broad array of supporting goods and services.

About the Author: Steve King is a partner at Emergent Research, a research affiliate at the Institute for the Future, and senior fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. He is a co-author of the Intuit Future of Small Business report series, and he blogs at Small Biz Labs.

Steve is a member of the Small Business Trends Expert Network.