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Husch Blackwell Releases Fourth Annual Public-Private Partnership Trends Report

Higher Education, Energy and Broadband Projects Demonstrate Strong Appeal

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Husch Blackwell is pleased to announce the publication of its fourth annual Public-Private Partnership Trends Report. The report contains an analysis of recent public-private partnership (P3) agreements for projects that reached a financial close from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2020. Additionally, the report provides perspectives on emerging areas of P3 activity and a brief overview of the current pipeline of P3 projects.

The major findings of this year’s P3 Trends Report are encouraging for the P3 industry at large. The COVID public health crisis did little to dim the enthusiasm for P3 projects among public and private participants; in fact, data suggest that record levels of P3 projects are in various phases of development. Year over year, there was a 26 percent increase in new projects entering the pre-launch phase in 2020.

“Early in the COVID crisis, many were worried about how the capital markets and state and local finances would be impacted,” said Husch Blackwell partner Charles Renner, head of the firm’s P3 practice team. “However, it became clear as the year progressed that the public health crisis’s impact on financing was minimal. We saw a tremendous amount of interest in P3 as a project delivery tool across an even broader class of project types. We anticipate that trend will persist after COVID.”

State and local governments continued to pursue P3 across multiple project types, including an array of “vertical” P3s addressing broadband infrastructure, water/wastewater facilities, courthouses, and mixed-use development, among other areas. Within the higher education segment, interest expanded beyond the traditional student housing projects of recent years. Several new and ongoing higher education P3 projects were aimed at updating, maintaining, and operating campus energy and water systems.

In sum, the trailing 24-month period ending December 31, 2020, saw 38 projects reach a financial close, the highest total since the firm began publishing its Trends Report.

Prior years’ reports have included survey results from attendees of the Public-Private Partnership Conference & Expo (P3C), held annually in Dallas, Texas; however, due to COVID-19, the 2021 event has been postponed until later in the year. In lieu of the 2021 P3C survey results, the 2021 P3 Trends Report has aggregated pre-COVID survey data to provide a glimpse of how the survey results have evolved since the survey’s inception in 2015.