August 12th Information &
Resource Update
Summary: Federal Infrastructure Legislation

Following negotiations among a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and the White House, the Senate this week passed a major infrastructure investment package, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration. President Biden has made clear that he will sign the legislation into law once it reaches his desk.

In total, the legislation includes $550 billion in new federal investment in the nation’s infrastructure. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 69 in favor and 30 opposed. Provisions of the legislation include but are not limited to:

Roads, Bridges, and Major Projects
  • The legislation will invest $110 billion of new funds for roads, bridges, and major projects, and reauthorize the surface transportation program for the next five years. This spending will focus on repairing and rebuilding roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians.
  • The bill includes a total of $40 billion of new funding for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation, which is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system.
  • The bill also includes a total of $17.5 billion for major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs but will deliver significant economic benefits to communities.

  • The bill invests $11 billion in transportation safety programs, including a new Safe Streets for All program to help states and localities reduce crashes and fatalities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. It will more than double funding directed to programs addressing highway safety, truck safety, and pipeline and hazardous materials safety.

Public Transit
  • The legislation invests $39 billion to modernize transit and improve accessibility for the elderly and people with disabilities, in addition to continuing the existing transit programs for five years as part of surface transportation reauthorization. This is the largest Federal investment in public transit in history, and devotes a larger share of funds from surface transportation reauthorization to transit. It is intended to repair and upgrade aging infrastructure, modernize bus and rail fleets, make stations accessible to all users, and bring transit service to new communities. It will replace thousands of transit vehicles, including buses, with zero emission vehicles.

Passenger and Freight Rail
  • The bill represents the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago. The deal invests $66 billion in rail to eliminate the Amtrak maintenance backlog, modernize the Northeast Corridor, and bring rail service to areas outside the northeast and mid-Atlantic.
  • Within these totals, $22 billion would be provided as grants to Amtrak, $24 billion as federal-state partnership grants for Northeast Corridor modernization, $12 billion for partnership grants for intercity rail service (including high-speed rail), $5 billion for rail improvement and safety grants, and $3 billion for grade crossing safety improvements.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure
  • The bill invests $7.5 billion to build out a national network of EV chargers. The bill will provide funding for deployment of EV chargers along highway corridors to facilitate long-distance travel and within communities to provide convenient charging.

Electric Buses
  • The legislation invests $2.5 billion in zero emission buses, $2.5 billion in low emission buses, and $2.5 billion for ferries.

Airports, Ports, and Waterways
  • The bill invests $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports to address repair and maintenance backlogs, reduce congestion and emissions near ports and airports, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies.

  • The legislation includes over $50 billion in resiliency spending, including funds to protect against droughts and floods, in addition to a major investment in weatherization.

Clean Drinking Water
  • The bill allocates $55 billion to clean drinking water, including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines and address PFAS.

High Speed Internet
  • $65 billion will be spent to expand access to high-speed internet.

Environmental Remediation
  • The bill allocates $21 billion to environmental remediation, including funds to clean up superfund and brownfield sites, reclaim abandoned mine land, and cap orphaned gas wells.

Power Infrastructure
  • The legislation spends $73 billion to upgrade the nation’s power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy. It creates a new Grid Deployment Authority, invests in research and development for advanced transmission and electricity distribution technologies, and promotes smart grid technologies. It will support demonstration projects including advanced nuclear reactors, carbon capture, and clean hydrogen.

  • The bill is to be financed through a combination of redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, and strengthening tax enforcement regarding crypto currencies, among other measures.

Massachusetts-specific Impacts
  • Massachusetts will receive $4.2 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $1.1 billion for bridge replacement and repairs under the legislation over a period of 5 years.
  • Massachusetts can also compete for a portion of the $12.5 billion Bridge Investment Program for economically significant bridges, and for a portion of national funding in the bill dedicated to major projects.
  • Massachusetts will receive $2.5 billion over 5 years to enhance public transportation systems across the state.
  • Massachusetts will receive $63 million over 5 years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state, and have the opportunity to apply for a portion of the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging in the bill.
  • Massachusetts will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state, including providing access to the at least 137,000 people in Massachusetts who currently lack it.

Further Information

The legislation now proceeds to the House of Representatives for its consideration; any differences between a version passed by the House and Senate would need to be reconciled before the bill advances to the President for his signature.
Workforce Training Funds: Q&A Session

Each year, Massachusetts awards millions of dollars in grant funds to Massachusetts businesses through the Workforce Training Fund (WTFP). Through the General Grant Program of the WTFP, funding is available to support activities intended to increase business growth, productivity, and employee retention.

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) and MassMEP are hosting an information session with their grant experts to provide an overview of the process and answer questions on Tuesday, August 17th from 11:00 AM to 11:45 AM.

Topics to be addressed include:
  • Qualifications for applicants
  • Which training topics are eligible for grant funding
  • Best practices and tips for getting applications approved
  • Building a training plan that meets your organization’s needs
  • Other grant program options to consider

Participants will have the ability to submit questions in advance. This event is free to registrants; click here to register for the webinar.
MassHire Statewide Virtual Job Fair Next Week

MassHire will host a statewide virtual job fair over the course of five days next week, August 16th through August 20th, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM each day. MassHire is still accepting participation from employers looking to expand their workforce; employer participation is free of cost, regardless of business size. The event will consist of two "General Job Fair" days, as well as three industry-specific days. Employers are not required to participate in all days, and may select those days that best meet their hiring needs.

Job fair schedule:
  • Monday, August 16th: General Job Fair (all industries)
  • Tuesday, August 17th: Manufacturing, Professional Services, Finance
  • Wednesday, August 18th: Healthcare, Hospitality, Education
  • Thursday, August 19th: General Job Fair (all industries)
  • Friday, August 20th: Information Technology, Building Services, and other

The job fair is being held via an online platform, Premier Virtual, that allows job seekers to interact with employers through a visit to their virtual booth, instant message or video chat, view job openings, and submit resumes. Click here for a preview of Premier Virtual.
Massachusetts Housing Navigator Tool Launched

The Housing Navigator, a free online tool designed to make it simple to search for affordable rentals statewide, is now open to the public. Over 2,000 properties in 267 towns are listed on the new site. Working with owners and public sector partners, the Navigator is a database of income-restricted rentals across Massachusetts. Listings are shown only where there is reliable, actionable information for potential renters.

Founded as a nonprofit in 2019, Housing Navigator Massachusetts, Inc. works to address the digital divide around the choice of where to live. The purpose of the tool is to help renters and affordable housing owners find each other. From the Navigator: "Beyond easing the search for a home, our database of over 180,000 affordable housing units improves transparency, helping us all understand what affordable housing the state already has and what renters are looking for. The state’s limited dollars for affordable housing can be targeted to where they are most needed."

Moving forward, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development has mandated Navigator participation for the roughly 2,000 newly developed affordable units it funds annually. 
MetroWest Hospitality Industry Career Fair August 24th

The MassHire Metro South/West Career Centers and the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce will jointly host a regional hospitality industry career fair, aimed and assisting area hospitality employers in finding needed staff.

The event will take place in person on Tuesday, August 24th from 2:00 to 5:00 PM at The VERVE Hotel, located at 1360 Worcester Street in Natick. Social distancing protocols will be followed at this event. Employer space is limited and booked on a first-come, first-served basis. Participation is free to employers.

For more information or to register, contact Sean Marshall, MassHire Metro South/West Business Services Manager, via email at or by phone at (516) 317-3069.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you:
Jason Palitsch, Executive Director
(774) 760-0495 x105

Thank you for your continued commitment to strengthening our region.