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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Announces $5.25 Million Investment in Arkansas Job Creation, Economic Development

Federal Investments Will Help Arkansas Rebound From 2008 Disaster Damage

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, on his first official trip since taking office, today presented $5.25 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to create jobs and strengthen the Arkansas economy in the wake of the severe storms, flooding and tornados that occurred in 2008.

"The Obama Administration is committed to creating jobs, encouraging innovation and improving our nation's competitiveness," Locke said. "Successful economic development is a locally-driven process. It's about people working together from the private and public sectors to take control of their economic destiny.

"The federal investments that we announced today are wise because they support locally-driven, collaborative, economic-recovery strategies. These EDA grants will help Arkansas capitalize on its strong university system and natural resource deposits by helping businesses revitalize their operations and create jobs."

The investments include:

  • $2 million to the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UA-FS) to help build the Regional Entrepreneurial and Innovation Resource Center. The center will address the challenges faced by small businesses in the wake of disasters by offering educational programs relating to disaster preparedness and response mechanisms, and will utilize the latest technologies to encourage small business growth and entrepreneurial training and development.

  • $1.75 million to Arkansas State University (ASU) of Jonesboro to help build the Commercial Innovation Center. The center will play an integral role in the development of a knowledge-based business technology sector in northeast Arkansas. Additionally, the center will offer an extensive range of facilities to transform ASU research into business and economic development opportunities, especially in the development of disaster resistant crops.

  • $1.5 million to Conway County to improve access road, water and sewer infrastructure at the May Hope Moose and North Industrial parks. These improvements will attract industry and jobs, as the Fayetteville Shale Play, a gas reservoir located in the Arkoma Basin, is developed. The play is expected to be critical in the emergence of the natural gas sector in north-central Arkansas.

  • In 2008, three separate natural disasters hit Arkansas. FEMA disaster designations triggered eligibility for EDA funding. Small businesses were particularly affected, and many struggled to re-establish their operations in the region.

Today's grants come from two congressional appropriations granted to EDA, totaling $500 million, to assist with economic recovery in the wake natural disasters.

EDA's mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, and preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.

Additional information on how EDA investments are helping distressed communities create a positive and sustainable economic future can be accessed at: http://www.eda.gov.