CIOs, CTOs, and Public-Private Partnerships: Baby Steps and Celebrating Successes

Many of the examples of successful public-private partnerships are large, complex projects. These are the projects that get publicity and impact people’s lives when done well, so it makes sense that this is often the focus.

However, CIOs and CTOs should know that a project does not have to be massive to be a success. In fact, a project does not even have to be complete to bring positive results. Baby steps and small scale public-private partnerships are all worth celebrating.

To show you the wide range of public-private partnership success, we have collected a handful of examples of baby steps and smaller-scale efforts worth highlighting. We hope you are inspired to take on your own public-private partnership when the time is right, knowing that you do not have to do it all at once.

Encouraging Small Public-Private Partnerships

As one more note on baby steps for public-private partnerships, it is important to consider that private entities often prefer to handle larger projects for greater reward. 

There are a few ways to still take baby steps knowing this, such as bundling several smaller projects into one contract. Smaller public sector organizations like municipalities, schools, and so on, can potentially join into larger district or state-wide projects. There is also potential success in offering grant funding, development rights, long-term leasing agreements, or revenue-sharing. You will see some of these tactics in the examples below.

State of Pennsylvania Small Bridge Renovation and Repair

In Pennsylvania, this public-private partnership could be seen as 558 baby steps toward success. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and a private consortium, Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners, worked together to fix 558 bridges rated as being in poor condition, over the span of just a few years.

PennDOT chose the public-private partnership model for this project to bundle all of the bridge repair into one contract, generating savings for taxpayers and using those savings to address other infrastructure needs. 

The partnership spread out over that longer timeframe to fix the infrastructure while minimizing the impact on motorists. With the bridges complete, private partner Walsh Infrastructure Management is handling maintenance for a 25 year period ensuring the bridges remain in good repair. 


The state of Kentucky is working to be the ‘middle mile’ with KentuckyWired, partnering with a private company to create a physical system of fiber optic cable allowing broadband to be brought closer to communities. The system is built in incremental stages, bringing better access to communities in small steps rather than constructing an entire system at an unrealistic rate. Presently, it is around 83 percent complete.

Kentucky chose a public-private partnership model to leverage outside funding and private sector experience, without having to defer other infrastructure projects. The state will own the middle mile network and lease half of its fiber strands to private companies.

605 Innovation District

In Aurora, Illinois, the entire city is becoming an innovation itself — slowly and incrementally, with a public-private partnership. The 605 Innovation District is a partnership between the city and Smart City Capital to become a leading-edge urban development hub. 

This is all part of Aurora’s technology strategic plan, and one of the early steps in attracting innovators to the city, which already boasts 210 kilometers of fiber optic cable and one of the leading STEM schools in the country. It is a long-term goal, with this partnership being an important milestone.

State Street Redevelopment

In West Lafayette, Indiana, the city, Purdue University, and the Plenary Roads State Street consortium joined together on a project to modify traffic patterns on State Street, bringing it from a busy highway route to something safer and more enjoyable for cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers.

The project involved a lot of changes, made incrementally over the span of several years. With redesigned roadways, the addition of cynic paths, new lighting, landscaping, and better sidewalks, a lot of work went into the redesign, one piece at a time. With each change, the project slowly came into its final form, but each small piece of this public-private partnership was certainly worth celebrating.

These examples show that no matter what industry or subject matter a public-private partnership touches, and whether it is small or large, finished quickly or spread out over time, these projects are well worth the effort when they are complete. From bundled projects to those that span over years of small steps, there is a way to make every public-private partnership one that works for everyone involved. 

Next in our series, we will help you put inspiration into practice with CIOs, CTOs, and Public-Private Partnerships: Game Plan.

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