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How the Infrastructure Bill Was Won

bob lanhamBY BOB LANHAM

Timing is everything, at least when it comes to serving as AGC of America’s president. On the downside, it was bad timing that saw the start of my tenure as your president coincide with the onset of a global pandemic. On the upside, it was good timing that saw the culmination of years of work and advocacy by AGC that led to the passage of a massive new infrastructure bill at the end of last year.

Steve Sandherr’s column in this issue does a nice job outlining all there is to like in the newly enacted bipartisan infrastructure bill. The fact this bill is so strong has a lot to do with the work AGC of America has put into advocating for just such a measure. That work has included extensive public relations, innovative targeted digital advertising and a lot of relationship building on Capitol Hill. Most important, the bill passed because of the engagement of tens of thousands of members who made sure Congress heard the voice of this industry.

On the public relations side, we have been working for years to make the case for new infrastructure investments. We have organized dozens of news conferences in coordination with our chapters. At these events, we highlighted the need to fix our roads and bridges. We talked about the broader economic benefits of these investments. And we pushed for Congress to act. These events generated hundreds of newspaper, TV and radio news stories that helped us reach members of Congress and their constituents. And they complemented the work TRIP did in sharing data about the need for new infrastructure investments.

We supplemented these media events with multiple advertising efforts that harnessed the power of targeted digital advertising to reach key audiences. These campaigns allowed us to reach people who both vote regularly and commute in key Congressional districts. We then blanketed these folks with adds about how an infrastructure bill would help them and urged them to contact their members of Congress. This tactic allows us to be as efficient, and effective, with our resources as possible.

We also invested an enormous amount of time building relationships, and earning trust, on Capitol Hill. Our team of lobbyists met with nearly every member of Congress during over 100 in-person meetings and countless other virtual ones. Those relationships allowed us to educate members of Congress about the need for new infrastructure investments and the need to avoid new red tape and regulations. Thankfully, enough members trusted us to help deliver bipartisan support for exactly that kind of bill.

But what really tipped the scales in our favor was the fact so many members opted to engage with AGC’s infrastructure push. Over 14,000 members responded to AGC action alerts, sending nearly 100,000 messages to members of Congress urging them to get behind an infrastructure bill. These messages reached every member of the House and Senate. And they left little doubt about where our industry stands on this issue.

When I started my tenure as your president, I promised you that getting engaged today was the best way to build a stronger future for our association and our industry. Tens of thousands of you took me up on that promise and helped deliver one of the most significant pieces of legislation for our industry that many of us have seen. So, for this final Constructor column as your president, I wanted to say thank you for believing in me, for getting engaged and for helping build a stronger, more prosperous industry.