Within the nation as well as this region, there is a shortage of infrastructure. Despite the statements by leaders of the political establishment, both current and past, very little has been done to catch up with past mistakes and cut through the significant deferral of highway, sewer, water, and other infrastructure projects that have been delayed.
They are observed and discussed but no action of consequence has enabled infrastructure to be implemented across this great country. So, we live in a society that badly needs correction and could legislate at the national level what was once proposed in Pennsylvania at least 30-plus years ago and was never carried out. Furthermore, developing a major infrastructure plan would be an economic development strategy, much in past recessions, and they widely affected the positive means to help overcome negative economies in the United States and regions such as the Pocono-Northeast. Look at the stimulus infrastructure plan that grew out of the Great Recession of 2008-09. More than $800 billion was spent to assist in the recovery from that economic disaster. Trillions of dollars of federal revenue recently have been spent to alleviate the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic with the likelihood of more needed in coming months. A recent issue of Time magazine contained the following observation by a Dutch historian: “Right now, we are in the biggest crisis since the Second World War. The economic impact of COVID-19 is greater than the impact of the Great Recession of 2008 and may be even greater than that of the Great Depression of the 1930s. And if history teaches us anything, it’s that extraordinary things are possible. Everything depends upon on the ‘ideas that are lying around.’ ”
We require the brainpower and ingenuity of those who would be the principal thinkers and doers on our current era and those who will become the leaders of generations ahead, both nationally, statewide and regionally.
In the eons ahead, the best practices need to be examined and those found essential, put into place. On of these is a national infrastructure plan that will enable us to improve situations that have been abandoned for decades. We have not had a total infrastructure strategy in a very long time and continuous talks have not led to action. Think of how we should become involved in this mechanism and here a few suggestions.
• Inventory the extent to which infrastructure needs are identified in this region and develop a list of ready-to-go projects that can be implemented as funding becomes available.
• Establish an infrastructure task force regionally that can advance this topic and help develop print and electronic public information pieces that tell the story of how this can assist physical and economic roles across the region.
• Create a plan for the region that goes years into the future and organizes the best approach to meeting the needs of the region over a five-to 10-year perspective.
• Despite the coronavirus symptoms that that have impacted the nation and the region, the need is dramatic for an infrastructure program that can benefit regional life and our future quality of life.
• We need to reinvent ourselves nationally, statewide and in the region to meet the new normal, and hopefully create a new beginning beyond the crisis. Organizing the pubic administration process of planning, organizing, directing, staffing, coordinating, reporting and budgeting would enhance our capability in coming times.
• The new work of importance has been health, supermarkets, first responders, education and public transportation, among others, and hopefully will stay as priorities in coming generations in the Pocono-Northeast and elsewhere.
• Uncertainty across the nation has impacted this region so that we need more dialogue, more priority setting, more involvement of joint efforts by groups such as regional higher educational institutions, community leadership programs, community foundations and other positive elements to accommodate the change likely to occur. New infrastructure actions are part of this change.
• A new assembly of entities in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors in this region with the capacity to establish joint actions before all governmental bodies would be key in generating positive results before federal, state and local leaders who can most efficiently achieve positive results.
• In the past, leaders helped change regional directions. Some more recent young leaders came together several months ago in what was called Wilkes-Barre Connect for two days, attracting over 200 participants. We need to have this type of expression in various regional locations and bring together the new leadership in a combined generational force to establish greatness beyond current levels of competence. Our population has the talent, wisdom and energy to accomplish this in all sectors of regional life.
These and other measures can enhance the growth and development of the region, meet infrastructure needs, and focus on the new priorities that will surely follow the eventual end of the coronavirus pandemic and truly bring new, creative attention to the role that the Pocono-Northeast will play in the years ahead.