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Infrastructure Important to Business Activity

Two weeks ago, the Cape Girardeau community experienced the impact of a critical infrastructure failure when a large water main broke causing problems with the entire water system and creating the need for a boil water advisory. Water infrastructure, just roads, sewers, electric and gas utilities are one of the often-overlooked foundational pieces that facilitate a local economy.

Less than a week removed from City crews working tirelessly over several days to isolate the break, fix the line and then get the water system back up to full capacity, City staff received a report they had commissioned from St. Louis based engineering firm Crawford, Murphy, & Tilly on the city’s water infrastructure. According to the news report last week in the Southeast Missourian the engineers identified a need of approximately $90 million dollars in needed investment and repairs. This was just a look at the water system and doesn’t include other critical infrastructure systems that need investment like wastewater and transportation.

Some of you may wonder what my point is as it relates to business. We can certainly talk about the disruptive impact that the weeklong boil water advisory had on our local businesses, causing some to limit services, reduce hours or even close entirely for several days. But the other lesson I think it’s important for businesses to take away is how are you being proactive in identifying your “infrastructure” needs within your organization and planning to tackle issues like deferred maintenance on your facilities, or technical hardware. Even taking time to look at your organizational structure and how you are prepared to react to changes in the market can be a critical action for long-term success.

I don’t envy city leaders as they look at the list of needed investments to secure and improve our water system and balance those needs with the limited number of resources available. But I do think businesses can take a lesson from the work they are doing to identifying the problem. In the long run the community will be better off for having the right information available and that’s good for business.