This press release from the Delta Regional Authority.
LITTLE ROCK, AR. – The Delta Regional Authority and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, together with their federal and local-based partners, today announced $2.8 million in new DRA investments to strengthen Arkansas’s infrastructure, workforce, and economy. DRA’s investments will support public and private partnerships and bring a total of $28.5 million in new investments to Arkansas.
“We appreciate DRA’s investments, which are important to the continued economic development of our state,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “These investments will make infrastructure improvements, support business expansion and help create new jobs across Arkansas.”
Eight of the investments were made through the DRA States' Economic Development Assistance Program (SEDAP), the agency's main federal funding program that invests in basic public infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, workforce development, and small business and entrepreneurship projects. The other investment was made through DRA’s Community Infrastructure Fund (CIF).
“This critical investment in our communities and infrastructure will drive economic growth and create more opportunities for success across rural Arkansas,” said U.S. Sen. John Boozman.
Arkansas is one of eight states to receive DRA investments. The agency’s total investments in the Mississippi River Delta Region and Black Belt of Alabama will reach $20 million in 2017. With contributions from public and private partners, total investments will be $231.6 million.
“These investments align with DRA’s goal to enhance economic development and support infrastructure improvements in the eight states the agency serves,” said Peter Kinder, alternate federal co-chairman of DRA. “Our resources will help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives across Arkansas. This effort highlights DRA’s ability to build public-private partnerships to invest in the future of the Delta region.”
DRA – ARKANSAS ECONOMIC INVESTMENTS:
- FORREST CITY: Industrial Park Transportation Improvements. DRA Investment: $225,000. Total Investment: $2,225,000. DRA funds will be used to help match an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant and local funding to improve the park’s road network and build a rail spur. The improvements will support increased truck traffic and allow for a new mode of transportation for businesses that are projected to create more than 800 new jobs.
- HELENA: Water Service Improvements for Helena Harbor. DRA Investment: $257,110. Total Investment: $5,204,610. DRA funding will be leveraged with other funds for the construction of a 500,000 gallon water tower at the Helena Harbor site. Currently, the closest water tower to Helena Harbor is eight miles away. Water pressure at the Harbor site is not high enough to support business expansion. The new tower will also be made available to 500 rural residential customers of the Long Lake Water Association.
- WYNNE: Support Growth of Matthews Ridgeway Farms. DRA Investment: $225,000. Total Investment: $8,781,500. This will support a gap investment for the processing, packaging and distribution equipment needed to enhance business growth at Matthews Ridgeway Farms. The company would like to bring in-house processing, packaging, storage and distribution of Arkansas-grown sweet potatoes, a process now performed outside of the state by third-party providers. Over 80% of all Matthews Ridgeway sweet potato growing is now distributed outside the state of Arkansas, purchased by large food chains and sellers. This project will increase the volume of fully processed and FDA approved packaging and distribution of sweet potatoes.
- TRUMANN: Support Growth of Manufacturing Business. DRA Investment: $225,000. Total Investment: $513,383. This investment will support a partnership agreement between the City of Trumann, DRA, and a private company to help a manufacturing venture increase community capacity, stimulate economic development and provide job creation.
- EUDORA: Complete Installation of Rail Spur. DRA Investment: $150,000. Total Investment: $174,000. This allows the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District to assist in purchasing materials to complete installation of a rail spur at the Big River Rice & Grain facility near Eudora. The rail spur will reduce shipping costs and allow the facility to transport its products by waterway at the Lake Providence (LA) port.
- CITY OF NEWPORT: Levee Pump Replacement for Flood Control. DRA Investment: $200,000. Total Investment: $240,000. This project will fund the replacement of the levee pump that serves the north side of Newport and keeps flood waters away from homes and businesses. The replacement of the pump will protect about 525 households from flood waters and businesses that employ about 300 local residents.
- CITY OF IMBODEN: Disaster Training Facility. DRA Investment: $150,000. Total Investment: $6,932,675. DRA’s investment will aid in developing a water rescue training zone at the facility. This facility is a collaboration among Arkansas State University, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, the City of Imboden, Lawrence County, and local and regional businesses. Water rescue is one of the more pressing disaster-response problems in Arkansas. It is the most common problem associated with disasters in the state, yet it is the least addressed in current disaster training.
- CITY OF BANKS: Sewer System Improvements. DRA Investment: $52,500 (100%). This provides emergency funding for sewer repair to protect residents from unsanitary conditions. The system serves 80 residents in Banks and Tinsman in Bradley County. New pumps and tanks will be installed to prevent raw sewage from backing up into homes.
- PINE BLUFF: Infrastructure Improvement Project. DRA Investment: $1,350,000. Total Investment: $4,345,000. This funding comes through DRA’s CIF program and will support infrastructure improvements in the city’s Central Business District (CBD) to spur revitalization efforts and provide infrastructure improvements needed in neighborhoods in proximity to the CBD. The vitality of these neighborhoods is critical to redevelopment efforts downtown.
“Infrastructure is the backbone of economic growth, and too many of our small towns struggle to keep theirs up to date,” said U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford. “The 1st District sincerely welcomes DRA’s investment in rural Arkansas.”
“I am excited to see this investment being made at home to Arkansas,” said U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman. “Without strong infrastructure, we cannot expect our economy to grow. These investments will help Arkansas communities add jobs and opportunity.”
DRA coordinates directly with Arkansas's planning and development districts for program funding implementation. In addition, the agency works closely with Gov. Hutchinson and his board designee to identify projects to receive SEDAP investments, which are aligned with state economic development goals. These federal investments require a minimal investment of state funds that can bring a large return in DRA and other agency funding and result in a greater economic impact for the Delta region of Arkansas.
About The Delta Regional Authority
The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. To date, the DRA’s SEDAP investments, together with its state and local partners, have leveraged more than $3.7 billion in public and private investment into local small business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, and infrastructure development projects. These investments have helped create or retain more than 37,000 jobs, trained more than 7,300 workers for 21st Century jobs and provided water and sewer service to more than 66,000 residents since DRA was established. Learn more at dra.gov.