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September 23, 2011 > Private industry looks to high-speed rail for job creation

Private industry looks to high-speed rail for job creation

Submitted By Rachel Wall

Hundreds of representatives from private industry gathered in Fresno on September 8, 2011, to learn more about the jobs that California's high-speed rail project, the largest of its kind in the nation, is expected to create.

Conservatively, approximately 20,000 jobs are anticipated for every $1 billion in infrastructure spending. The Authority already has more than $6 billion earmarked to begin construction along the Central Valley "backbone" of the system in 2012. The first request for qualifications from prospective bidders for the initial construction segment will be released during September 2011.

A combination of state bond funds approved in 2008, federal funding grants, local funding and public-private partnerships will fund the entire project.

The high-speed rail industry forum on September 8 was co-sponsored by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the Economic Development Corporation Serving Fresno County and California State University Fresno.

"One of the things on California's docket that stands to have the greatest impact on our economy and our way of life is high-speed rail," said Roelof van Ark, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the state agency charged with overseeing the project. "It competes very favorably with driving and flying over distances of a few hundred miles and - particularly important in California - it creates tens of thousands of jobs in both the short- and the long-term."

The industry forum afforded the private sector several opportunities: to learn more about the project, the bidding process and how they can participate; to interact with and ask questions of California High-Speed Rail Authority officials; and to connect entrepreneurs and small businesses with "prime" contractors to discuss working together.

"There will be work for everybody because of high-speed rail," Steve Geil, president and CEO of the EDC Serving Fresno County, told the crowd. "This is huge. You're not competitors competing with each other for work - there's a place for all of us."

"It's going to change the way we think about travel from a work standpoint," Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea. "Imagine the opportunities that arise when we can travel quickly and comfortably around the state... these companies wouldn't be here if they didn't see what this means."

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