Paul Brown

Too Good to Be True: Scottsdale and Privatization during the 1980s

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This is the personal story of a very public project. In 1984, a respected Boston environmental engineering firm took on the industry’s biggest engineer-constructors to win the first municipal water treatment plant privatization project in the country. The City of Scottsdale, Arizona had embarked on the "untested" financing approach to take advantage of tax incentives that arrived with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Because it was the first of its kind, and the water industry saw many more to come, this small project captured nationwide attention. As the City raced to build the treatment facilities needed to take long-awaited water supply from the Colorado River, a team of aggressive long shots took on the world of infrastructure development and finance. It’s a roller-coaster ride from big achievements to colossal blunders, seen through the eyes of an ambitious MBA, in way over his head. Ultimately, it's a cautionary tale for young professionals that there’s a lot to be gained by taking risks and even more to be learned from accepting defeat.
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