While the president visits ailing bridges to tout his infrastructure-fixing jobs bill, the secretary of agriculture is visiting road extensions with the same message. Secretary Tom Vilsack stopped at a recently completed boulevard extension in Springfield that connects a major city thoroughfare to an interstate, and has already attracted national retailers who have set up shop. Vilsack says this is how needed infrastructure repairs or expansions create jobs.
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“Infrastructure is a job creator and also an opportunity creator, says Vilsack. “As a result of the extension you now have chances for commercial enterprises to build and expand. Those are jobs, both permanent and construction jobs.” The MacArthur Boulevard extension project created 500 temporary construction jobs. Scheels, a national sports retailer, just finished building a 200,000 square foot store – and future plans include various restaurants and an outlet mall. Vilsack touted infrastructure improvements as beneficial to agriculture, as well. He says products can’t make it to processors or markets without sturdy road systems, rail systems and airports. “It has a rail system that is extraordinarily important to agriculture, and an airport system that millions of people go through every year,” he says. “The ability to improve that infrastructure allows us to get our product to market more quickly, which means we’ll be more competitive in the global market.” The president’s $447 billion jobs bill has received little support in Congress; the administration has since broken it into parts in hopes of forcing lawmakers to make several tough votes.