Stimulus Bucks to Start Flying

Most of the as-yet unspent $193 billion appropriated to the contracts/grants/loans category is going to be doled out over the next 12 months, according to Onvia.

A spokeswoman for the White House confirmed that outlays for specific stimulus projects is expected to double during the first half of 2010 compared to the first half of 2009.

Onvia has identified a current pipeline of 25,500 infrastructure-related projects, partially or fully funded by approximately $90 billion in stimulus money. These are projects, such as a $90 million rail yard renovation in Bridgeport, Connecticut and a $300 million road reconstruction effort in Southern California, that have either begun thus far in 2010, or will begin by year's end, Balsam said.

In addition to infrastructure projects, there are stimulus-funded transit initiatives, such as the procurement of around $1 million worth of bus parts in Monroe, Michigan and $3 million for investments in transit security in Houston, Texas, as well as major energy initiatives, including a nearly $1 billion electricity grid modernization for Duke Energy in Charlotte, N.C.

Such projects in aggregate could create up to 900,000 jobs, Onvia estimated.

Lion's Share Heading South

Drilling further down into those 25,500 projects and estimated 900,000 jobs, Onvia's Balsam has found a number of other interesting trends:

The largest number of jobs, around 250,000, will be created by projects in the Southeast.

The infusion of stimulus dollars, whether lauded on the left or deemed negligible on the right, is likely to be well received by state authorities regardless of political affiliations. Most states are starved for cash amidst unprecedented revenue shortfalls, both for fiscal years about to conclude at the end of June, and for the following fiscal years that start in July.

The recent one-year anniversary of the Obama stimulus brought, unsurprisingly, sharply partisan assessments.

Partisan Prisms

Democrats said the spending measures created and saved 2 million jobs; Republicans, pointing to unyielding unemployment, scoffed. Economists and think tanks, meanwhile, issued mediocre to favorable grades. A group of economists assembled by ABC News gave the stimulus's first year a B minus.

Not many grades were issued for stimulus expediency amidst the partisan debate over effectiveness, and far less attention has been paid to the oncoming second wave of private-sector bound bucks.

"Overall, we expect 70 percent of the entire pool of stimulus funds to be disbursed by the end of 2010," said Ed Pound, a spokesman for the federal government's Recovery Accounting and Transparency Board, tasked with overseeing stimulus money with an eye toward preventing abuses. "Relative to what one could expect from the federal government that's actually fairly quick."

While stimulus money has been slow to reach the private sector, in part owing to the usual bureaucratic inertia, a "use it or lose it" approach was specifically designed to ensure the money gets spent.

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