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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $2 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds for Wastewater Infrastructure Improvements to Support Tourism in Fort Smith, Montana

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $2 million grant to the Fort Smith Water and Sewer District, Fort Smith, Montana, for wastewater infrastructure improvements needed to support the growth of the tourism sector. This grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan.

This project will support the local tourism industry by providing reliable wastewater services to local businesses. This EDA grant will be matched with $614,600 in local funds and is expected to retain 32 jobs, according to grantee estimates.

“President Biden’s American Rescue Plan delivers federal resources to communities to ensure our nation not only recovers from the pandemic, but builds a better America for the future,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This project will support the local tourism industry in Fort Smith, promoting economic recovery in the region.”

“The travel, tourism and outdoor recreation sector is a critical economic driver for many communities and the Economic Development Administration is pleased to support community-led development strategies,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This EDA investment will provide the infrastructure necessary to support local businesses and increase tourism in the region.”

“Tourism and outdoor recreation help drive Montana’s economy and are particularly vital for our small rural communities along the Bighorn River like Fort Smith. And there’s no question that improved wastewater infrastructure is key to expanding tourism around Bighorn Canyon,” said Senator Jon Tester. “I’m proud to have secured this funding for the Fort Smith Water and Sewer District through the American Rescue Plan to modernize critical infrastructure and attract more visitors to experience all Fort Smith has to offer.”

This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by Beartooth Resource Conservation and Development (Beartooth RC&D). EDA funds Beartooth RC&D to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development roadmap to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment and create jobs.

This project is funded under EDA’s $240 million competitive American Rescue Plan Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation program. EDA awarded $510 million in 2021 to all 50 states and territories. The two programs are designed to accelerate the recovery of communities that rely on the travel, tourism and outdoor recreation sectors. Effective May 26, 2022, EDA has officially closed all of its American Rescue Plan programs for applications. The $3 billion program funding will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30, 2022.

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 invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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