Public Works Board’s FirstStop Initiative Aims to Better Connect Local Governments to Infrastructure Resources
November 18, 2014
John W. Carpita, PE
Washington’s Public Works Board (PWB) is a well-loved organization among public works professionals. Through their most popular program, the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA), local governments in Washington State have received over 1,900 low-interest loans to finance much-needed public infrastructure construction and rehabilitation. But PWB is, indeed, about much more than just money. Through their new FirstStop Initiative, PWB has brought together a host of resources, including a robust online tool, to provide local governments like yours with both the financial and technical support to develop sustainable infrastructure systems in their communities.
PWB staff have long worked to provide training, education, and resources to local agencies in Washington State, but through the FirstStop Initiative these efforts are now more coordinated. Some of the PWB activities include:
- Bi-annual funding program webinars. Twice a year PWB brings together staff from various funding agencies (Ecology, Health, Transportation Improvement Board, Transportation, among others) to participate in a discussion on funding opportunities. Organizations review the requirements and timelines for each funding program to ensure local governments are fully prepared to apply.
- Regional Infrastructure Academies. PWB invites leaders, managers, and staff from local governments to participate in training sessions designed to explore the changing political, demographic, and economic conditions in the region and develop methods to address the unique challenges facing that region. Speakers include experts in their fields from federal, state, and local agencies and organizations.
- Active participation in the Infrastructure Assistance Coordinating Council (IACC) and the IACCC’s annual conference. Included is participation in highly regarded and useful Tech Team project reviews. IACC provides technical assistance to communities and tribes by bringing together the appropriate funding and technical assistance representatives with community members to collaborate on specific projects.
But perhaps the most exciting new arrow in the PWB quiver is the Online Resource Catalogue. This innovative new tool, unveiled at the Fall 2014 IACC Conference in Wenatchee, directs users to financial, technical, and training resources provided by expert agencies and associations. Although it’s not all-inclusive, the catalogue contains links to expert agencies and associations, and highly regarded information sources on the web. With four different ways to search the catalogue, it also helps you zero in on the most valuable resources for your particular issue. The PWB’s goal is to create a simple and easy web search platform that allows you to access both financial and technical resources that lead to sustaining your infrastructure systems.
The Catalogue website includes a significant amount of explanatory text on how to use it. Each of the four search options is explained in the left column, and to use a particular search, click on the associated icon in the right column. Give the PWB Online Resource Catalogue a test drive today!
With this latest online catalogue and its many other funding, training, and technical assistance programs, the PWB is an invaluable resource for local governments in Washington State. MRSC has long worked closely with the PWB, and we highly recommend them as a complementary source for public works assistance.
MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.