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Public-private partnerships seen as innovative way to build infrastructure

With the Trump Administration likely to push for Public-Private Partnerships for its trillion-dollar infrastructure plans, around 1,200 people are gathered in Toronto starting Monday for a conference on those partnerships and how they have worked around the world.

It is the 24th annual national conference of the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships. Many of those attending are likely to have ridden the new train line between Pearson Airport and the Union Station, a trainline built  as a public-private partnership. Or they may have come to Billy Bishop Airport in the Toronto Islands and entered downtown through another P3 tunnel.

Mark Romoff, the former Canadian Consul General in Buffalo, is currently  president and CEO of the that P3 council. Romoff tells WBFO infrastructures around the world need $57 trillion in work.
"And, frankly, that number is probably understated, so it isn't an anomaly that the United States would also find themselves with a huge infrastructure gap that they need to address," Romoff says. "And the reality is that given the fiscal situation that all countries are experiencing they need to look at innovative, more modern approaches to that and public-private partnerships is just one of those."

Each country does it a little differently. The Trump plan is apparently calling for tax credits to help projects, but Romoff says Canada does not allow those tax credits.

He says these projects are growing in size and detail as the two sides learn how to legally plan and structure them. Always in the mix is the risk on the private side: if it can't bring a project in on schedule and on budget, it has to come up with the difference.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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