Solving Cities

Los Angeles eyes China for transit funding

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Los Angeles has an ambitious plan to improve the city's transit system. But with Congress dragging its feet on transportation infrastructure funding, L.A. is looking overseas for funding.

A quality transit system is an important part of attracting and retaining talent in a city.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gets that, and he has an ambitious plan to improve the city's transit system. But with Congress dragging its feet on transportation infrastructure funding, L.A. is looking to China for funding to complete 30 years of infrastructure projects in just 10 years. Los Angeles Times reports:

Villaraigosa said Thursday that he met with executives from China Investment Corp. in Beijing during his trip to Asia in December. The group was established in 2007 by the People's Republic of China, according to the corporation's website.

Officials with the mayor's office said the meeting was preliminary only and characterized it as "very cordial" and part of the larger trade mission of Villaraigosa's trip to Asia, which also included stops in South Korea and Japan.

David Yale, an official with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, was also at the meeting, which officials said was arranged to explore alternative investment opportunities.

Villaraigosa isn't the only mayor looking outside the U.S. for infrastructure funding. Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told the Times that this is a growing trend among cities: "It's something that we see becoming more and more prominent … especially as federal resources become more and more constrained."

And cities shouldn't wait around for federal funds. All across the U.S., cities are vying to become world-class hubs of innovation, and talent isn't going to wait for your city to build quality infrastructure. If your city doesn't have it, there's another city out there that does, or a mayor-entrepreneur, like Villaraigosa, working to make it happen.

Photo: NoIdentity/Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure