US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spent a long day in New Jersey talking about the benefits of President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package as he toured the Port of Newark on Thursday morning with Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff).
Later Thursday afternoon, he joined Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) at County College of Morris in Randolph to tour the school’s CCM Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Center and participate in a discussion forum where he included “qualified human capital” among the needs. to address infrastructure and supply chain issues across the country.
“We are responsible for funding and funding road infrastructure, bridges, roads and port infrastructure that have been allowed, frankly, to become obsolete,” Buttigieg said.
At the East Coast’s largest container port of Newark, also the nation’s third largest, Buttigieg explained how infrastructure improvements will solve supply chain issues, create jobs and boost local economies.
“Along with the economic shocks of COVID-19 and the recovery, the result is that we have to find short, medium and long term solutions at the same time in order to solve this problem,” he said.
Port Newark operations support about 500,000 jobs in New Jersey and New York and serve more than 134 million people in the region, according to Gottheimer.
The port also contributes more than $12 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue.
“Right now we mark six months since we crossed the finish line with this historic legislation, which will help us ensure that goods and people move better and faster in and around northern New Jersey to make life more affordable for our families,” Gottheimer said.
Longer-term solutions to infrastructure and supply chain issues were discussed at the college, where Sherrill and Buttigieg toured a technology center filled with high-tech equipment, some of which was donated by local business partners , as vo-tech middle and high school students were getting hands-on instruction.
“Where everyone here comes in is the implementation of this law, the provision of these resources, depends a lot on the human infrastructure,” Buttigieg said. “Human capital, the skills of the workforce in increasingly demanding and sophisticated jobs. The truth is that we can only achieve this $1.2 trillion investment if we leave no talent behind. Table.”
He praised CCM President Anthony Iacono for the public-private partnerships he has developed with companies desperate to add skilled workers to their operations.
“A big part of the reason we’re seeing difficulty moving goods across the country is that although our operations are mostly private sector operations and rightly so,” Buttigieg said. “But they depend on public sector infrastructure. It’s really impressive what we’ve seen here. The key to success is the integration of employers and educators, and seeing how you’ve made that work is impressive.”
“We have a labor shortage, so we’re looking at making sure we’re addressing that right now,” Sherrill said. “This is the most we have invested in our workforce in a generation.”
Eligible apprenticeship programs will also receive funding.
“Not all learning programs are created equal,” Sherrill said. “We want to make sure they’re evidence-based, that we know that if people take the time to do it, they’ll have a job on the other end. A well-paying job.”
Buttigieg was scheduled to spend the night in the Garden State and join Rep. Andy Kim on Friday for an event in New Jersey’s 3rd District.
Billions for NJ
Over five years, billions of dollars could be taken from the infrastructure bill to advance construction of the Gateway Tunnel between New York and New Jersey.
The bill also provides specific amounts for other essential projects in New Jersey, including:
- $8 billion to repair highways, roads and bridges.
- $1 billion in critical water infrastructure needs to remove chemicals and lead from the water system.
- $100 million in broadband for over 100,000 people without access.
- $4.1 billion to improve public transit.
- $104 million for electric vehicle charging networks and $2.5 billion available to apply for grants.
- $272 million for airport infrastructure.
William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.