Getting hot

P3 businesses are increasingly looking to bolster their presence in Miami and South Florida as the region is set to be a hotbed of infrastructure opportunity

Since the signing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (also known as the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act) in November last year, the infrastructure community in the US has been gearing up in preparation of new investments coming down the line.

The legislation was wide-ranging and the opportunities flowing from it are expected to be significant, with over a trillion dollars of federal money ready to be pumped into the country’s aging infrastructure.

Working out where those opportunities might crystallize won’t always be easy. However, perhaps one good signal will be to look at where projects have been successful in the past, and where there is the political will to replicate those successes.

This may well explain the current rise in activity in Florida, as a growing number of businesses look to increase their infrastructure and P3 credentials, particularly in the Miami and South Florida region.

In the last week alone, law firms Reed Smith, Taylor English Duma and Winston & Strawn have all added to their presence in Miami, with the latter two setting up their first offices in the city and ensuring these new offices have a focus on infrastructure. Meanwhile, in recent months, technical consultancies Mott MacDonald and HNTB have also added to their presence in Miami with senior appointees.

Earlier this year, investor IFM made an investment in a Florida-based company, and in an interview with P3 Bulletin, the firm’s executive director of debt investment for North America, Matt Wade, highlighted the potential of the region. “We see political support for P3 projects in the region,” he said. “These types of partnership are well understood.”

That is not always the case in states and municipalities across the US, so it is perhaps unsurprising that Miami has seen an influx of interest from companies looking to develop P3 opportunities in the region. As money starts to flow from the feds, places that already have a good understanding of P3 will be well placed to utilize the model to its best effect - and at pace.

Indeed, since Wade’s comments, the City of North Miami has tendered a new civic revitalization project that it believes will be “transformative” for the city. Meanwhile, the City of Miami Beach has sought P3 advisors in “anticipation of future unsolicited proposals”.

Miami-Dade has long experience with the P3 model and is often inclined to use it when considering new infrastructure schemes. The city is a leader across the country in its use of the model, with its courthouse often cited as a key example of how P3s can be used to deliver social infrastructure.

There are, of course, bumps in the road - Miami-Dade scrapped its Rickenbacker Causeway P3 procurement earlier this year - but unlike in some other parts of the world, it is recognized and accepted that a problem with a P3 project is not necessarily a problem with the P3 model. Therefore, authorities remain willing to use the procurement tool in the right circumstances - even when the Rickenbacker procurement was halted, officials confirmed that its reprocurement would likely go ahead as a P3.

This kind of willingness to use the model and conviction in its potential is key for the private sector, and is perhaps one of the big reasons that we are seeing an influx into the region today. 

Other states and municipalities might want to take note if they are to make the most of the federal government’s plan to refresh the country’s infrastructure.