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Federal infrastructure plan prompts local excitement

McHenry County, like the rest of the country, could see crucial investment in infrastructure if lawmakers in Washington D.C., pass the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, presented by President Joe Biden.

It’s been years since the last federal infrastructure bill passed.

The March announcement of this potential development has been received locally with a bit of excitement.

Darick Franzen, vice president of business development in North America for the construction manufacturing company Miller Formless, said the announcement of a plan to present a federal infrastructure bill is “long overdue.”

“[Biden’s] pushed out a very aggressive large dollar amount infrastructure bill,” Franzen said.

Last month, Biden proposed funding his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan largely through an increase in the corporate tax rate to 28% and an expanded global minimum tax set at 21%.

The American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan will lend help locally to improve the state of Illinois’ 6,218 miles of road and 1,374 bridges in need of repair. It goes on to provide, among other things, financial assistance to modernize access to safe drinking water.

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, said the infrastructure plan in the works is the result of a collaborative process.

“I think a lot of this builds on a whole lot of work that we did in Congress,” Casten said.

Casten said the president and his administration put their own spin on what they’re proposing, as well.

“Frankly, the White House added a lot of their own thoughts,” he said.

Casten said it is clear there is excitement over the federal infrastructure plan.

“I think it is safe to say that all of the people involved in the bill are excited about the infrastructure plan,” he said.

Casten believes the bill will go a long way toward helping Illinois in improving its infrastructure.

“The price tag on this is pretty big, but I would say that the return from this investment is big,” he said.

Franzen believes the bill will give a boost to Miller Formless, an already-thriving business in the infrastructure industry.

The construction manufacturing company, based in McHenry, has been in business for more than 50 years.

“I think a lot of our sales success has been not only from the fact that we make a really good product, but there’s a been a lot of pent-up demand because of [COVID-19] in 2020,” Franzen said.

Business came to a bit of a halt for many industries in the spring of 2020. Around that time, the state of Illinois issued a stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of purchasing decisions, I think, were pushed to 2021,” Franzen said. “I think there’s a lot of pent-up demand.”

Franzen said the federal infrastructure bill will likely help many of the local contractors the construction manufacturing company serves.

Michael Sturino, president and CEO of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, said the federal infrastructure plan is a big deal.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Sturnio said. “From what I can tell, around $600 billion over five years would be dedicated under Biden plan for transportation infrastructure and that includes electrical vehicles and stuff that’s not necessarily going to put my numbers in the construction industry, the engineering community to work. Still, it’s a good investment and we certainly welcome it in Illinois.”

The IRTBA promotes and advocates for the transportation design and construction industry in Illinois.

Sturino said he would like to see more of the details of the infrastructure plan, but he’s confident the plan will be helpful for local construction companies.

“It will put a lot of people to work,” he said. “More importantly, we think it will make Illinois more economically competitive and improve the quality of life for all the citizens as we invest in our transportation infrastructure.”