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Contact: Public Affairs Department, (202) 482-4085
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $6.9 Million in Arkansas to Build Infrastructure and Boost Economic and Job Growth

Funds Will Also Help Rebuild Infrastructure Damaged by Storms in 2011

WASHINGTON - Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today announced $6.9 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) disaster grants to the Arkansas cities of Clinton, Fairfield Bay, Heber Springs, and Stuttgart as well as Mid-South Community College in West Memphis to rebuild critical infrastructure damaged by severe storms and flooding in 2011. Funding will also benefit the Little Rock Port Authority in Little Rock, helping it expand facilities and attract new business in a competitive global market.

"These $6.9 million in EDA investments in Arkansas are examples of the Obama administration's commitment to support critical infrastructure essential to fostering economic growth," said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Blank. "The six grants announced today will help Arkansas communities recover from flood damage and rebuild infrastructure crucial for strengthening the local economy and creating jobs."

The investments announced today include:

  • In Clinton, an EDA grant of $1.4 million will help rebuild and upgrade the city's water treatment facilities, which were severely damaged by floods in 2011. These improvements will help increase economic activity for the area surrounding Greers Ferry Lake, an economic driver for the north central region of Arkansas, and will help revitalize the employment base in the region.

  • In Fairfield Bay, an EDA grant of $1.1 million will help fund repairs to the Fairfield Bay Conference Center and the rebuilding of West Cliff Drive, the main thoroughfare for an adjoining 400-slip marina. Both suffered major damage from storms and flooding in 2011. The repairs will help restore this tourism and recreation facility, which is a major driver of the local economy, to full operation.

  • In Heber Springs, an EDA grant of $1 million will help fund repairs to the city's water treatment plant, which experienced high turbidity spikes and sedimentation in its water supply as a result of runoff caused by floods in 2011. An upgraded filtration system will increase the city's treatment capacity, allowing it to better meet current and future needs of the region's residents and businesses.

  • In Stuttgart, an EDA grant of $1 million will help fund repairs to Hartz Road, a major access route into the Stuttgart East Industrial Park. The road was severely damaged by floods in 2011, limiting access to the park and its business tenants by heavy trucks. The repairs will allow businesses located in the park to maintain their current level of activity and retain hundreds of jobs.

  • At Mid-South Community College in West Memphis, an EDA investment of $1.5 million will help construct the Mid-South Aviation and Manufacturing Training Facility. The Arkansas Delta, where the project is located, suffered extensive storm damage in 2011. The new training facility will support the workforce development programs of the Arkansas Delta Training and Education Consortium, a partnership of five community colleges that are committed to the economic development of the 12 counties of eastern Arkansas.

  • A $960,000 EDA public works investment in the Little Rock Port Authority will help fund construction of the Arkansas River Resource Center. This state-of-the-art facility will provide new marketing opportunities for the port, helping it to realize the untapped economic potential of the Arkansas River, and will also benefit the adjacent Little Rock Port Industrial Park. According to grantee estimates, 45 new jobs will be created by this project.

These projects, with the exception of the Little Rock Port Authority grant, are part of a $200 million appropriation made by Congress to EDA to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011 with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support. Within the context of the administration's National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), EDA serves as the Coordinating Agency on behalf of the Department of Commerce for the Economic Recovery Support Function (RSF) to coordinate the activities of a diverse group of partner agencies supporting recovery in disaster-impacted communities. The activities consist primarily of leveraging existing resources and authorities to make a positive impact for communities affected by disasters.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.