Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Snaps to Domino’s for making progress on infrastructure. Maybe Washington will follow the lead?

On June 11, pizza chain Domino’s unveiled its newest project, “Paving for Pizza.”  The initiative will allow pizza lovers to nominate their towns for a chance to win a grant that will fix potholes. 

"Have you ever hit a pothole and instantly cringed? We know that feeling is heightened when you're bringing home a carryout order from your local Domino's store. We don't want to lose any great-tasting pizza to a pothole, ruining a wonderful meal," said Russell Weiner, president of Domino's USA.  "Domino's cares too much about its customers and pizza to let that happen."

It’s no news that America’s infrastructure is crumbling, including our roads. America’s roads received a D rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers in its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. According to ASCE data, one out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition.

With roads like these, it’s no wonder that pizzas are in danger of being jumbled on the drive home.

It’s hard to believe it now, but infrastructure investment seemed promising at the start of President Trump’s term. Remember when Trump promised us the “biggest and boldest infrastructure investment in American history (albeit his plan didn’t call for nearly enough cash to get the job done)? He even urged Congress to work across the aisle to pass an infrastructure bill in his State of the Union address, and Democrats put forth their own plan.

Since then, we haven’t heard much about infrastructure, so it seems that it has slipped down the totem pole. Now Trump (himself a former pitchman for Domino’s main rival) is saying that it will likely have to wait until after the midterms.

It’s a shame that we haven’t seen movement on infrastructure, considering it’s in such poor shape and that 79 percent of Americans approve of increased infrastructure spending. On top of that, it would be a great investment — every $1 billion invested in infrastructure generates 21,000 jobs, and every dollar invested creates $3.50 in economic impact.

With Washington dragging its feet, Domino’s has taken matters into its own hands. The company already has helped pave potholes in several cities across the country — and your town could be next. Nominate your town by entering your zip code on the “Paving for Pizza” website.

Naturally, I entered my hometown’s zip code to enter. It can’t hurt to try, right?

I know what you’re thinking: a private corporation shouldn’t step in to perform a basic service that the government should provide. And I agree! This privatization is not something we should make a habit of, but it highlights the need for stronger federal support for local governments when it comes to infrastructure investment.

Local governments are leading the way in infrastructure investment, as local officials are best positioned to identify and solve problems in their communities. However, many cities are strapped for cash, as General Fund revenues still haven’t fully recovered from the recession. It’s difficult for local officials to step up when they aren’t supported by the state and federal government.

Thus, local governments struggle to fix their infrastructure (e.g. pave potholes that harm our pizzas).

Cities want to fix their infrastructure. The vast majority of Americans want infrastructure investment, too. It's well past time that Washington step up to the plate.