Smith Anderson’s Pete Marino Takes the Wheel at Business North Carolina Transportation Roundtable
North Carolina’s continued evolution into a regional supply-chain powerhouse due to its prime location midway between Miami and New York City is fueled by its interconnected network of highways, railways, ports and air transport. Smith Anderson attorney Pete Marino joined other transportation leaders in North Carolina as a panelist for Business North Carolina’s March roundtable "Transportation and Logistics, Ready to Roll" which covered the importance of a reliable transportation infrastructure in helping to attract the recent mega-projects and corporate campuses and facilities the state has scored, as well as the supply chain challenges that continue.
Pete is the chair of the Freeway Committee of the Regional Transportation Alliance, comprised of nearly 100 companies across the Triangle and 23 North Carolina chambers of commerce in central North Carolina that serves as the regional business voice for transportation initiatives and policies. Pete’s fellow panelists included Kevin Baker, executive director of Piedmont Triad International Airport; Brian Clark, executive director of North Carolina Ports; Michael Fox, chair of the North Carolina Department of Transportation and president of Piedmont Triad Partnership; Joe Milazzo, executive director of the Regional Transportation Alliance; and Carl Warren, president and CEO of North Carolina Railroad Co.
Business North Carolina notes that the discussion was held on March 7, the same day that Siemens Mobility announced a $220 million light rail manufacturing plant in Davidson County, just south of Greensboro. About 500 jobs are expected to be created at the Lexington site, and the magazine says the project underlines the critical role that the state’s transportation system plays in luring business of all kinds, as well the impact of mobility-related businesses.
The roundtable included topics regarding business and transportation trends and issues in North Carolina, including how the state can continue to improve upon and pay for transportation projects; driverless shuttles; and a projection that in 10 years, every new vehicle will be at least a hybrid or electric.
"It’s been clear that the legislature recognizes the need for additional transportation revenue to deal with the cost escalations due to material and workforce shortages as well," Pete said. "There’s been a long-term decline over time in gas taxes, as more folks moved to electric vehicles. And for the first time in this last budget cycle over at the legislature, they voted to begin devoting a percentage of state sales tax revenue to the highway fund. That revenue had previously gone to the general fund, and that was a big, big win [for transportation in the state]."
Pete also noted the fact that North Carolina has many top-notch universities, as well as an "unmatched" community college system that serves many North Carolina industries that depend on reliable transportation and logistical support.
"It really is a driver, because it addresses workforce issues in a way that’s very meaningful and a lot of states can’t compete with," Pete said.
Pete co-leads Smith Anderson’s Real Estate Development group and Construction and Infrastructure practice and has been integrally involved as lead counsel for the Firm in some of the most significant projects in the state and region, including North Carolina's first interstate toll road project, its largest single award design-build highway project, the state’s first and second Turnpike and Light Rail projects, numerous international airport and land and airside projects, and a LEED-certified World Headquarters project for a leading Fortune 500 company.