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Success Story: Economic Development Districts: Marking a Half-Century of Paving Paths to Stronger Communities

July 2017 Newsletter


50 Years of Partnership Success

This year, many of the nation’s first federally-designated Economic Development Districts (EDDs) are turning 50! We commend all of our EDD network partners for their dedication and service! Below are just a few examples of numerous successes EDDs have accomplished through the years!

Illinois - Greater Egypt Regional Planning & Development Commission

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Greater Egypt in IL has created more than 7000 jobs over the past 50 years through partnerships.

As a result of the collaboration fostered through the CEDS process, the Greater Egypt Regional Planning & Development Commission, over its 50-year history, has been able to help diversify and grow the region’s economy by helping to attract more than $350 million in private sector investment that has helped to create more than 7,000 jobs for local citizens. Impressive projects have been generated as a result of this regional focus in Southern Illinois.

For example, In September 2014, EDA invested $1.2 million in Public Works funding to realign roadway at the Southern Illinois Airport Authority to develop approximately 65 acres of airport property to support a High Tech Zone. Today, this project is attracting aviation, automotive and technology transfer businesses and is stimulating increased regional export capacity.

In addition, the facility houses a workforce training facility for aviation related occupations, including plane maintenance and repair. This project was truly a collaborative effort, partnering with the Airport Authority, but also the Greater Egypt Economic Development District, Southern Illinois University, and the Jackson County Growth alliance.

Arkansas - Western Arkansas Planning and Development District

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Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ft. Smith, Arkansas

Over the past 50 years, the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District has experienced multiple successes with the assistance of the Economic Development Administration. Recently, they had the opportunity to partner with the City of Fort Smith, the Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation, the Degen Foundation, and EDA to construct Arkansas’ first college of osteopathic medicine on a 200-acre campus with the Arkansas College of Health Education. The first phase of the project to improve the 60,000 square foot school included road improvements, extension of utility services and a parking lot. This project, which will enable the school to enroll 150 students per year, has already created approximately 75 faculty and staff positions. With a $1.2 million EDA investment, this $3.6 million project will assist in the shortage of health care in the area as well as providing many diverse job opportunities in the region.

Georgia - Northeast Georgia Regional Commission

Social Circle, Georgia logo

Over its 50-year history, the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission has been able to help diversify and grow the region’s economy by attracting more than $376 million in private sector investment that has helped to create and save more than 3,816 jobs. In 2009, EDA invested $1.6 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance funding in rural Social Circle, Georgia to construct critical water and sewer infrastructure that supports a Fortune 500 company's new 1.5 million square foot, state-of-the-art distribution facility. The investment facilitated the creation of 186 new jobs and generation of $47 million in private investment.

Oklahoma - Southern Oklahoma Development Association (SODA)

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BigLots! Distribution Center in Durant, OK

The Southern Oklahoma Development Association (SODA) was one of the first three organizations to be designated by EDA as an Economic Development District. It was designated on February 2, 1967, and is still going strong 50 years later. In the past 15 years, the District has assisted the region in securing EDA grants of over $6.5 million that have or will result in the creation of over 800 jobs and attraction of $85 million in private investment. An example of the lasting impact SODA has made was its work in helping to secure a BigLots! Distribution Center in Durant, Oklahoma in 2004. Since that time, BigLots! has maintained a constant work force of 250-300 people and is a significant economic driver for the City of Durant, Bryon County, and Southern Oklahoma.