Following is a statement from Urban Land Institute Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips regarding the American Jobs Act proposed by President Obama to create jobs and boost the nation’s economy.

For more information, contact Trisha Riggs, 202-624-7086; priggs@uli.org

WASHINGTON (September 9, 2011) – The American Jobs Act proposed by President Obama highlights the key contribution our urban areas make to the nation’s overall prosperity and global competitiveness. In particular, this is reflected in the president’s call for increased infrastructure support, which is a pressing need in communities throughout America.

ULI recognizes the great job-generating potential of investments in infrastructure, including transportation and education systems. Our communities need road and bridge repairs, transit alternatives, safe routes for biking and walking, school improvements and new schools. And, our nation’s unemployed and underemployed need to work. However, a commitment to infrastructure is far more than a jobs-making program to jumpstart the economy. The greater impact of infrastructure investment is this: We are creating better cities for people, not just cars. We are equipping America’s communities to be among the world’s finest in which to live, work and learn.

For decades, the United States has lagged far behind Asia and most of Europe in investing in infrastructure, perhaps most notably in transportation systems. In this regard, our nation has become more of a follower than a world leader. This investment shortfall is well documented in the Infrastructure research report series published annually by ULI and Ernst & Young.

We must do better, and the proposals from President Obama are a sign that we can do better. We are especially encouraged by the Administration’s support for a new infrastructure funding system. One alternative system long supported by ULI is the creation of a national infrastructure bank that would leverage public funds to attract private investment in projects that improve the livability and connectivity of our nation’s communities. In this era of tight budgets and tough spending choices, our cities, urban regions and states would benefit from a new approach to both project funding and the types of projects funded.

For years, other countries have developed best practices in leveraging public financing; we should learn from their success and update our thinking in this regard. Relying on old formulas and funding distribution methods will not produce the infrastructure upgrades America needs. Rather, it will hamper progress.

The United States is an increasingly urban nation. Economic, environmental and demographic factors compel us to develop communities in a way that conserves land and energy. Providing adequate infrastructure is integral to meeting this challenge. We need a renewed commitment to infrastructure as a core component of resilient communities and long-term economic prosperity.

NOTE: To request an interview with Patrick Phillips, contact Trish Riggs at 202-624-7086; priggs@uli.org

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (uli.org) is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.