February 12, 2009

State of Alabama
Press Release: Lt. Governor Folsom (2007-11)

Folsom Commission Issues Report

(Montgomery) The Lieutenant Governor’s Commission on Public Private Partnerships delivered its findings on February 12 to Lt. Governor Jim Folsom before presenting their report to the legislature.

The primary focus of the Commission is the study of a construction plan for a highway from Florence to Mobile along the western side of the state. “This project will not only have a positive impact on the western side of the state, it will also have a broader effect on the economic development profile of Alabama for generations to come.” said Folsom.


In justification of the new highway, the report states in part:


“Beginning in 1993, under the leadership of then Governor Jim Folsom, Jr., the State of Alabama gained international prominence with the announcement that Mercedes-Benz would locate its SUV manufacturing facility in Vance, Alabama. The spotlight that project alone cast on Alabama has resulted in Honda, Hyundai, ThyssenKrupp, and other major industries following locating in Alabama. We need only look at a map of these facilities' locations to see the importance of adequate surface infrastructure in attracting high quality investment to our State.”


Since the establishment of the Lt. Governor's Commission on Public Private Partnerships less than one year ago, the country is facing the most serious economic downturn in almost eight decades. The Obama Administration has committed to a major economic policy initiative that includes a commitment to rebuilding the country’s transportation infrastructure.  The proposal includes funding for "state of the art" surface transportation expressways with an emphasis on regions of our country that are economically underserved.


Specific recommendations made by the commission included asking the legislature - due to the potential statewide impact of the national Economic Stimulus Package -  to extend the life of the commission, recommending including provisions of public-private partnerships that are being successfully implemented by other states, and seeking approval to begin meeting with individuals with expertise in the field of public-private initiatives.


Commission Chairman Roger Bedford thanked Governor Folsom for his “vision and leadership” and expressed his view that the commission could not be better positioned.   “In light of this commitment from the federal government, the Commission's charge to study the application of Public Private Partnership funding could not have come at a more opportune time.”


Folsom offered a definitive post-script to the morning event. “I honestly believe that the greatest impact this road will have is that it will open up long-neglected parts of our state to future progress. For Alabama to reach her full potential - we must open up the west side of this state to economic expansion and opportunity.”    


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