News release

Middle Market Leaders Say America's Aging Infrastructure Is Hampering Economic Growth in New RSM Survey

Survey shows striking level of agreement among midsize businesses on urgent need for and willingness to participate in infrastructure-enhancing initiatives

Jun 10, 2021
Jun 10, 2021
0 min. read

Andreia DeVries, National Public Relations Manager, andreia.devries@rsmus.com, 212.520.1266
for media use only 

Executives at middle market businesses overwhelmingly agree that the state of the U.S. infrastructure is hampering economic growth nationally, locally and within their organizations, according to the RSM US Middle Market Business Index (MMBI) Infrastructure Special Report released today by RSM US LLP (“RSM”) in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Nearly two-thirds, or 63%, of the executives who participated stated the nation’s ailing infrastructure restricted growth of the national economy, 61% said it restricted growth of their local economies and 54% said it hurt their own businesses.

However, there is a sense that things are about to change, with 64% of respondents indicating they believe meaningful action will take place in the next three years that will result in tangible infrastructure enhancements.

“Executives are telling RSM that there is an urgent need to shore up what makes the American economy tick,” said Joe Brusuelas, RSM US LLP chief economist. “The results of this survey send a clear message to lawmakers and policymakers that middle market businesses are ready to invest and want to participate in the rebuilding of America’s infrastructure. We rarely see this kind of agreement in our society anymore, and this is the real economy communicating to the policy community that something different has to happen.”

Middle Market Businesses Eager for Action
The consensus over impending change prompts questions about what middle market executives are looking for, and the short answer is that they support infrastructure improvement initiatives across the board. When asked about 21 individual initiatives like improving roads and communications networks, at least 63% of executives indicated the improvements would benefit their company’s day-to-day operations. These figures represent a significant increase from a similar question asked in 2017, when responses were lower in every case, except for the category – electric vehicle charging stations – that wasn’t included in 2017.

“Our nation must launch a massive investment program to modernize America’s infrastructure,” said Ed Mortimer, vice president, transportation and infrastructure, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure is not only one of the fastest and most direct ways to create new jobs and spur economic growth now, but also it will sustain our modern economy and improve the quality of life for every American. Infrastructure is not a partisan issue—there is strong bipartisan support to invest in our nation’s future and we now need our elected leaders to come together and show the American people they can enact fundamental, good policy.”

The survey found that middle market businesses want to participate in the rebuilding of America’s infrastructure, and 51% of executives responded that they were likely to participate in the vendor selection process for businesses, which is a significantly higher total than the 30% who responded this way in 2017. When the question was limited to those companies that are in the business of infrastructure, 80% of the executives expressed interest in participating, compared to 59% four years ago.

Companies are also increasingly taking matters into their own hands, especially when it comes to expanding their own infrastructure and reducing their carbon emissions while maintaining profitability. Of the executives surveyed, 73% said they would make capital investments to expand their own infrastructure, such as buildings or facilities, over the next three years.

Middle Market Addressing Climate Change
While America’s largest corporations have – willingly or not – taken active steps to reduce carbon emissions, the middle market is joining the push. In a survey question about addressing environmental concerns, 63% of middle market executives said they had either already reduced their carbon footprint to zero, were working to get there, or were acting to reduce their carbon footprint. In the report, RSM attributes this shift to generational, regulatory and societal changes.

The survey data that informs this index reading was gathered between April 7 and April 28, 2021.


About RSM US LLP

RSM’s purpose is to deliver the power of being understood to our clients, colleagues and communities through world-class audit, tax and consulting services focused on middle market businesses. The clients we serve are the engine of global commerce and economic growth, and we are focused on developing leading professionals and services to meet their evolving needs in today’s ever-changing business environment.

RSM US LLP is the U.S. member of RSM International, a global network of independent audit, tax and consulting firms with 51,000 people across 123 countries. For more information, visit rsmus.com, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and/or connect with us on LinkedIn.