RALEIGH, NC / ACCESSWIRE / February 23, 2021 / After years of inaction on major infrastructure legislation, observers are optimistic that a plan may finally emerge from Congress to propel America's framework into the 21st century. A professional engineer who heads a Raleigh-based firm is joining the effort to persuade leaders in Washington D.C. - and their constituents across the country - that infrastructure is an urgent priority.
As federal investment in infrastructure has declined over decades, stress on local governments has mounted and compiled, says Gary Hartong, PE. As President of The Wooten Company, a civil and building systems engineering firm with five offices in The Carolinas, Hartong says communities were already facing dire budget challenges that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
"The communities we serve need infrastructure to go about everyday life, keep Main Street doing business, attract new investment - and rely on it to be both capable and resilient in times of crisis," said Hartong. "The good news is that every $1 dedicated to infrastructure yields a $3 return in the long run, while creating jobs immediately. That's a win all the way around."
Economic development depends enormously on modern infrastructure. When it comes to maintaining and extending essential services to meet needs in already distressed areas, total financial obligations always exceed available funding. Wooten helps secure funding and partners with nonprofits like the NC Rural Center to champion resources to bridge the gap.
"Rural communities face an uphill climb in the ongoing, and often unnoticed, work to maintain and improve the community foundations on which our economy is built: Things like roads, water, healthcare, and broadband," said NC Rural Center President Patrick Woodie. "Having partners like Gary and Wooten advocating for these issues is critical to raise awareness and find large-scale, sustainable solutions. We look forward to having Gary join us at the 2021 Rural Summit to help keep the conversation going and get others more involved."
Coordination at the state level is imperative. But Hartong says meeting today's infrastructure needs, constructed with capacity for generations to come, demands a major bipartisan measure from Congress. He was recently elected to Vice Chair of the American Council of Engineering Companies, or ACEC, which engages in legislative advocacy in the nation's capital and beyond.
"An infrastructure-based economic recovery is the best way to get people back into the workforce while also improving our nation for the long-term," said Linda Bauer Darr, President and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies. "Engineering will lead the way and it will take talented leaders like Gary to help us communicate our value to lawmakers in the weeks ahead."
After enduring the harshest financial headwinds in nearly 100 years, the stimulus spurred by infrastructure improvements would be timely to say the least. The engineering and architectural sector alone contributes $600 billion to GDP while boosting employment in related industries.
The Wooten Company provides civil engineering, geomatics and architectural services to public entities, educational institutions, and private industry. Wooten President Gary Hartong previously served on the Board of Directors for ACEC's North Carolina chapter. He earned a B.S. in Environmental Engineering at N.C. State University, where he then pursued a Master's in Civil Engineering.
SOURCE: The Wooten Company