An Oregon delegation led by Treasurer Ted Wheeler met with White House officials last week to discuss a new exchange for regional infrastructure projects.
The West Coast states and British Columbia formed last fall what they describe as a first-of-its-kind partnership to cooperate on financing public infrastructure projects through private investment. Wheeler met with President Obama's staff to discuss the partnership.
"Across Oregon and across the nation, investments in vital transportation, energy and utility improvements will make a major difference, and help us to thrive economically," said Wheeler in a statement.
The West Coast Infrastructure Exchange would bring public projects from California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia together with private investment in an effort to tackle a massive need for infrastructure upgrades in coming decades.
Also last week, the WCX announced that Chris Taylor, a renewable energy utility executive from Portland, will be its first executive director.
A bill moving through the Oregon legislature would allow the state to participate fully in the exchange.
During the first year, the goal of the exchange will be to provide information, develop underwriting standards and provide technical assistance. When up and running, it would evaluate projects and then connect qualifying public projects with private investment.
In the early stages, the exchange will begin financing smaller energy and water projects. Officials said the goal will be to bundle similar projects, allowing smaller projects to qualify for new financing options.
The WCX estimates $1 trillion in projects will be needed during over the next three decades in the Pacific region.
The Oregon State Treasury will coordinate the exchange, which is to be run by an interim management team representing each office.
The initial push for the partnership was funded by grants worth $750,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation to the Oregon Treasury.