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Slow start for Chicago private infrastructure plan

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 16, 2014 at 1:49 pm •  Published: May 16, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel had heralded his Chicago Infrastructure Trust as a tool for attracting private investors to bankroll transformative mega-projects in the city in return for a cut of the profits.

Fast-forward two years, and the trust is just launching its first endeavor — a massively scaled-back energy efficiency project for 60 buildings with an outside investment of just $12 million. That's led critics to doubt the potential for bigger projects.

Chicago's experiment also shows that tapping private funds to overcome shrinking pools of public money is not always quicker.

Supporters say it's too early to abandon the idea. Chris Taylor leads a similar initiative, the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange. He says it's important to start small, see deals succeed and build credibility. Emanuel says the framework's now in place.