Suffering from a structural lack of funding, infrastructure has been neglected for decades. But, presented as one of the key levers of the Trump’s Administration economic plan, it has suddenly found its way back into the current debate. Drawing an audience of academics, economic experts and students, the Drexel School of Economics and ESI’s third joint conference hosted on May 12, 2017 at Le Bow College of Business decided to tackle this complex issue. Two panel discussions addressed the micro- and macro-economic aspects of urban infrastructure and of its impact on the economy.
The conference kicked off with a keynote by Patrick Harker, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. He started with a brief economic update, predicting that two more rate hikes would likely happen this year, before delving into the importance of infrastructure to the economic health.
“Research matters”, stated Harker, reminding the crowd of academics that their work “forms the basis of real, demonstrable change. It has the potential to move people and families and towns and cities along the path from poverty to prosperity, and that’s powerful.” That’s why we need to do a better work at translating our body of research into practice.
Next, Harker explained how critical infrastructure is, not only to what constitutes our living standards – housing, transportation – but also to the competitiveness of our economy, playing a “central role in where and how we choose to live”. This is even more crucial that our expectations have changed, raising the issue of having to adapt our current infrastructure to the changing needs and demands of the population.
Mr. Harker wrapped up his presentation by reminding the attendants to consider the three following elements when talking about economic revitalization: “First, that it should be inclusive. Second, that it can’t be one-size-fits-all. Third, that our neighbors’ fates are tied to our own.” He also restated the importance of contributing to a body of research on these pressing issues.
To read Patrick Harker’s full speech, click here .