by Michael Lawliss, JMA Senior Policy Coordinator
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build resilient infrastructure for the 21st century and benefit the communities that live near these projects. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), was signed into law on November 15, 2021. This federal legislation will bring $1.2 trillion to states and cities over the next five years to repair and build roads and bridges, public transportation, the broadband network, and water infrastructure, among many other critical infrastructure projects. Each state will receive billions of dollars in funding over the next five years through mandatory and competitive grants, loans, and bonds.
A range of community and labor advocates, including Jobs to Move America, worked together with federal policymakers to include a provision in the BIL that allows policymakers to enact preferences for local and economically-targeted hiring on highway and transit construction projects receiving financial support from the US Department of Transportation (USDOT). This is the first time local and economically-targeted hire on federally-funded projects is allowed after years of community advocacy.
This historic legislation can address community priorities for developing, strengthening, and building resilient infrastructure. Infrastructure dollars allocated to states and local communities can be used to promote economic opportunity by creating good jobs.
A number of obstacles—some rooted in history and others just the result of everyday struggles for workers—have stood between local communities and the benefits of public infrastructure investment. But we have the chance to design and utilize policies, like local and targeted hire, that will help connect workers to good-paying, family-sustaining, career jobs.
Jobs to Move America partnered with a coalition of labor unions, advocacy groups, and research organizations to put together a guide on how states and cities can use local and targeted hiring policies to create good jobs for their community members. This guide:
- provides an overview of local and targeted hiring policies
- answers key questions for states and cities looking to implement these policies, and
- offers success stories from around the country
We hope that this guide can be a resource for a wide range of audiences, including community groups, labor unions, policymakers at contracting agencies, and elected officials at every level of government. As the USDOT continues to issue competitive grants and other forms of funding connected to the BIL, communities must work together to develop and advocate for local and targeted hire, as well as other complementary workforce development policies, on these federally-funded projects.