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Midland could receive major support in dam and broadband infrastructure

Local Michigan communities, including Midland County, are learning more about how community government can invest in infrastructure.

Additional information comes after Congress passed and designed funding to increase resources for critical infrastructure and local services last month. With newly approved federal resources to help restore infrastructure, including dams and broadband, both of which are initiatives, Midland County Commissioners have helped deliver recent agenda items on these issues.

“We know, of course, about the catastrophic failure of the Sanford Dam,” said Eric Scorsone of Michigan State University Extension. “But, there are a lot of other dams in Michigan that need to be addressed. Both in Michigan and nationally, and we know a number of them (dams) are low rated.”

Scorsone – the center’s director for local government, finance and policy – also said that leading better asset management requires access to more and better information to track local infrastructure.


“Part of good asset management is getting better information, which will hopefully get us in a better position,” he said. “Because even the accounting rules for local governments and the state are often not designed to do such a good job on infrastructure monitoring.”

More than 10% of listed dams are in poor or unsatisfactory condition, according to a recent report by the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission.

The new law provides billions of dollars for the maintenance and upkeep of Michigan’s critical infrastructure. In addition to dams, the highlighted infrastructure includes roads, bridges, schools, water and water supply systems, public transport, railways and energy systems.

Federal resources include $ 42.5 billion through formula-based grants to states for broadband expansion and improvement. States can use up to $ 5 million to develop a five-year action plan for the use of the funding. However, a majority of the allocation is to be based on new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadband coverage maps that have yet to be created, according to MSU Extension.

Here in Midland County, some broadband efforts are underway. County commissioners have previously mentioned that local townships are working to support connectivity efforts in their communities.

And, Midland County agreed to pay $ 150,000 for services with the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) and $ 250,000 for efforts to expand broadband connectivity in the region earlier this month. County officials and the MBA hope to achieve the goal of expanding local business and industry.

In terms of federal funds, MSU officials look to 2008 to compare recent dollars to the previous American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“There was also significant funding for broadband, but it’s eight times more,” said Eric Frederick of Connected Nation-Michigan. “This is truly an unprecedented opportunity to address the broadband issues we have in the state.”

Federal resources are also intended to support recovery resources in the event of a pandemic. MSU’s Matt Grossmann said additional federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will expand resources as communities recover from the effects of COVID-19.

“We are exploring how communities are preparing to invest in infrastructure,” said Grossmann, who is director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) at Michigan State University.

In light of the development of information, the IPPSR hosted a virtual meeting on Wednesday to highlight the impacts of Michigan and local federal funding plans and efforts.

“This is probably the most money given to local governments directly by the federal government in many decades,” Scorsone said, adding that the federal government was providing some direction, but expected discretion from the state.

Residents of the Midland area interested in viewing a recording of Wednesday’s meeting can visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBbSxLFkas0.

These sessions continued, one of the previous meetings discussed the potential prevention of water security crises in Michigan. This was posted on YouTube in March, after the dam ruptures in May 2020 in Midland and Gladwin counties.

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