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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Nearly $9 Million to Upgrade Critical Infrastructure and Increase Resiliency in Arkansas

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding nearly $9 million to upgrade critical infrastructure and support resiliency efforts in Arkansas, which has seen tornadoes, flooding, and severe storms in recent years. According to grantee estimates, EDA’s investments will create more than 1,100 jobs, retain 20 existing jobs and generate more than $2 million in private investment.

“The Obama Administration and the Commerce Department are committed to helping communities affected by natural disasters rebuild so they can rebound economically,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The EDA investments announced today support a diverse group of projects – from infrastructure improvements and transportation upgrades to workforce training and disaster recovery efforts – that will enable communities across Arkansas to be more economically resilient in the wake of future natural disasters and other challenges.”

The investments announced today include:

  • A $1.2 million grant to the city of Fort Smith will help construct infrastructure improvements for the new Arkansas Osteopathic Medical School in Fort Smith, Arkansas to increase physician accessibility. Arkansas currently ranks 48th nationally in physician accessibility, which was exacerbated by recent natural disasters in the region. EDA’s investment will help the city improve roads and sidewalks leading to the school as well as construct parking lots for patients, students, and staff. According to the grantee, this project will create stable year-round employment for area residents, add 65 jobs, and generate a donation of land worth $4 million dollars.
  • A nearly $1.1 million investment to the city of Stuttgart will help construct a commercial hangar with interior office space, and road and parking lot improvements at the municipal airport. According to the grantee, the Stuttgart Municipal Airport does not have the storage space required to house larger, more long-range airplanes, and a local business has run out of room to operate. The grantee has indicated that the hangar and infrastructure project will allow CAVU Aerospace Inc. to store and operate on 767-sized aircraft through a business expansion that will save 20 jobs, create 20 additional jobs, and generate $400,000 private investment.
  • A $1.2 million investment to the city of Pine Bluff will help upgrade roughly 40 miles of rail line to increase economic resiliency and diversity by providing alternate transportation in times of natural disasters to area businesses and manufacturers. Also, the proposed continued upgrading of the rail line is a vital component of broader efforts to restore and improve critical rail infrastructure that will service Southeast Arkansas and Northeast Louisiana. According to the grantee, the project will enhance the area's ability to attract new industry and to grow existing industry by improving local logistic infrastructure and will create 24 jobs in the area.
  • A $300,000 grant will support disaster recovery efforts in Central Arkansas by enabling the Central Arkansas Planning and Development District to hire a Disaster Coordinator and two additional staff members for a three-year period for the purpose of pre- and post-disaster recovery planning for Faulkner County, AR. In April 2014, Faulkner County was struck by severe storms and an EF4 tornado, resulting in devastation in both lost lives and significant damages to homes and businesses. According to the grantee, the area is experiencing tremendous life-altering economic dislocation of workers and homeowners, an obsolete tax base, and inoperable or strained services provided by city facilities and personnel due to the amount of damage that occurred. The new staff will help catalyze economic recovery and future resiliency.
  • A $1.2 million grant in Corning, Arkansas, will support rail improvements to an industrial site, enabling Peco Foods, Inc. to build poultry processing and hatchery facilities and associated infrastructure on a 120-acre site in Clay County. According to the grantee, the company has committed to a $165 million investment and the creation of 942 jobs. The feed mill operation will produce 15,000 tons of self-use feed per week to support the breeder and grower flocks grown for the Pocahontas plant, and those ingredients will be sourced primarily from local farmers.
  • A $1.1 million grant to the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM) will support the creation of a workforce training center. The EDA investment will increase the UACCM's capacity for training a highly qualified workforce for job openings at area businesses. Students will be trained in mechanics and repairs, which will be especially useful in the wake of disaster. The college, which currently has approximately 150 students, is expected to increase to over 200 students with the completion of the new center. These 50 additional graduates each year will help create a more robust pipeline of workers for high-wage, high-demand careers that cannot be outsourced, helping to strengthen the economy of the region.
  • A $597,116 grant to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees will help fund the continuation of the University of Arkansas Fayetteville's export-focused program, which involves international trade missions, market research, marketing and outreach activities, assessments and consultations with business owners, group training, and collaboration with governmental and private partners. EDA’s investment will enable the Work Trade Center Arkansas to expand its services to help Arkansas businesses become more disaster resilient by expanding their reach overseas, thus allowing for continuing operations in the wake of disasters and strengthening the overall health of the businesses, giving them the fortitude to survive future severe weather events.
  • A $1.2 million grant to the City of Hope will support the construction of an access road and drainage improvements to enable development along a 52-acre property adjacent to Interstate 30. The first phase of the project is the development of a cold storage transportation terminal, to be followed by the construction of a trucking outfitting and sales facility, and a "trucking plaza" which will offer overnight services to the trucking industry. The primary project beneficiary is Magnolia Development, LLC. According to the grantee, as a result of the project, Magnolia Development, LLC will invest $40 million and create 85 jobs.
  • A $1.1 million grant in Mayflower, Arkansas, will support the construction of water and sewer improvements, which would enable Mayflower to expand its services to better help Arkansas businesses become more disaster resilient. The region’s economy has suffered from three impactful catastrophes during recent years. By bracing the city for future commercial and residential growth opportunities, the project will help the community recover economically from the recent area 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.