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Monday, December 10, 2012

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $7.3 Million in Five States to Help with Economic Recovery from Natural Disasters

WASHINGTON - Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today announced $7.3 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wyoming, to help communities in those states recover economically from recent natural disasters.

"The Obama administration is committed to helping communities impacted by natural disasters rebound and rebuild stronger than ever," said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Blank. "The EDA grants announced today will help several communities that suffered extensive flood and other damage to rebuild infrastructure that is crucial for strengthening their local economies."

The investments announced today include:

  • In Connecticut, a $170,742 EDA investment to the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency will help fund the development of a disaster resiliency plan for central Connecticut, which was severely affected by Hurricane Irene in 2011. The study will identify vulnerabilities in the region's power generation and transmission systems, transportation network, and flood control improvements, and will develop a plan for a prioritized, coordinated response to future disasters.

    "Due to climate change, extreme weather events like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are going to be more frequent not less in the years ahead. That's why every federal dollar spent now on resiliency measures will save more taxpayer's dollars in the future," said U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman. "With this funding delivered by the Economic Development Administration, the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency will be able to identify the best plan moving forward."

    "This is a critically important down payment in assuring that Connecticut is prepared to respond to what we know will be more frequent and more severe storms in the years to come," said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. I have called on the federal government to redouble efforts to protect Connecticut from these future hazards. This includes investing in comprehensive assessments to identify vulnerabilities in our infrastructure, transmission systems and flood control measures. I will continue to advocate for full funding for disaster relief for Connecticut."

  • In New York, a $488,000 EDA investment in the Women's Enterprise Development Center (WEDC) will fund the establishment of a satellite office of the WEDC at the Hancock Technology Center at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. The office will fill a pressing need for connecting businesses in the Hudson Valley with business assistance and disaster recovery services.

    "This is an incredibly important investment to attract new businesses and jumpstart economic development in Hudson Valley communities that are struggling to recover from natural disasters," said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who advocated for this funding in October at OXYVITA in New Windsor. "We need to do more than just get back to where we were before these storms. We need a long-term strategy to strengthen our economy, open more businesses and create more jobs so the Hudson Valley can thrive for years to come. This targeted investment can help us - by equipping more entrepreneurs with the resources they need to turn their good ideas into growing businesses."

  • In Rhode Island, a $6 million EDA grant to the Quonset Development Corp. and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation will fund reconstruction of the Zarbo Avenue Bulkhead at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingston. The bulkhead was severely damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011. Its repair will expand available waterfront industrial property and reduce the area's vulnerability to future storm-related disasters. According to grantee estimates, the EDA investment will retain or create more than 100 jobs and generate $4 million in private investment.
  • "This federal funding will help rebuild the bulkhead, prevent future flood damage, and strengthen Rhode Island's economy by creating jobs and attracting further business and investment," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a member of the Appropriations Committee who has worked for over two decades to help direct more than $100 million in federal funding for upgrades at Quonset's railways, airport, and infrastructure."

    "The port at Quonset is a valuable asset for our state's economy," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). "This funding will give businesses at Quonset peace of mind that their property is safe from storm damage, protecting existing jobs and encouraging the development of dozens more. Adding to the new control tower, pier and crane, it will help keep Quonset an economic engine for Rhode Island."

  • In Vermont, a $472,000 EDA investment with the Windham Regional Commission and the Bennington County Regional Commission will fund two flood recovery offices to coordinate a business resources service center that will offer technical assistance to businesses in southern Vermont that suffered damage from Hurricane Irene in 2011. The funds will also assist officials from 20 communities in the region on developing long-term plans for economic recovery.
  • In Wyoming, a $198,000 investment with the town of Star Valley Ranch, Wyoming, will fund the development of master plans for surface water, roads, and economic development. The town and its roadways were severely impacted by heavy floods from spring runoff in 2011 and subsequent erosion that caused extensive damage to the town's businesses and infrastructure.

These projects 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 improved information sharing and the leveraging of existing resources 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.