Shovel Worthy, Not Just Shovel Ready – Wise use of the Federal infrastructure funding in rural SW America

Thu, Jul 21, 2022 1:15 PM – 2:45 PM EDT

For the first time in two generations, the U.S. Federal government is finally funding the long-overdue bill to fix America’s D-rated infrastructure.

The Issue: This level of extreme government funding is new, so we could spend billions with too little result. Spending strategies must address immediate infrastructure needs and account for future vulnerabilities in a changing climate and an emerging digital economy.

Rural SW America: Rural communities are often in remote areas at the end of the power lines, vulnerable to upstream grid disruptions, with inadequate broadband and water resources. The issues are most severe in the drought and heat-impacted rural American Southwest.

Join LightWorks at Arizona State University and the Security and Sustainability Forum in a 90-minute discussion of challenges and strategies for federal and state infrastructure spending combined with private finance for long-term, sustainable progress toward rural community utility and public welfare goals. 

The panel includes leaders from the Water Finance Exchange, CoBank, ASU’s Kyl Center, and the National Cooperative Business Association.  


Teri Viswanath, the lead economist in CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division, where she focuses on the energy industry, including the electric distribution, generation, and transmission sectors, as well as the rural water industry. CoBank is one of the largest private providers of financial services to agribusiness, rural infrastructure, and Farm Credit customers in all 50 states.

Hank Habicht, a former EPA Deputy Administrator, is the cofounder of the Water Finance Exchange. WFX is a non-profit platform that develops and funds community-based water projects. It focuses on integrating pre-development support and financing opportunities often unavailable to small and rural communities.

Sarah Porter is the Director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona Stat University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy The Center promotes research, analysis, collaboration and dialogue to ensure sound water stewardship, and produces user-friendly information and tools to help the public and policymakers better understand water supply and use.

Doug O’Brien is the President & CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA). Doug works with the cooperative community, both domestically and internationally, to deepen their impact and influence. NCBA is the primary voice for cooperatives in the United States for using the cooperative business model to empower people in their businesses and communities.