More than $2.2 million will be invested by a regional organization in Arkansas’ public infrastructure and workforce training in a bid to bolster the state’s economy.
The Delta Regional Authority (DR) has committed $2,228,104, which will go toward eight new investments in Arkansas for projects ranging from job training to water improvements to health care services. The funding is provided by the State’s Economic Development Assistance Program, which is designed to support “basic public infrastructure, transportation improvements, workforce training and education, and business development with an emphasis on entrepreneurship,” according to the DRA website.
According to DRA Chairman Chris Caldwell, these eight investments will be equally focused on human and infrastructure projects.
“DRA’s mission is to support economic development by making investments into the physical infrastructure and human capital of the Delta region,” Caldwellsaid. “These investments will provide much needed improvements to water and sewer systems, medical facilities, and industry-driven workforce training programs to provide greater economic opportunities for Arkansas residents and businesses.”
In a graph provided by the DRA, the investments are expected to create or retain 91 jobs, while training 150 individuals. The DRA investment is $2,228,104, but the total investment figure is projected at $26,374,371.
Arkansas lawmakers praised the announcement, saying that funds would have a significant impact on rural Delta communities.
“The Delta Reginal Authority’s continued investment in the Natural State will help improve Arkansas’s infrastructure and increase access to job training programs and healthcare services in rural areas,” said U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR).
“This support from the DRA will help meet the needs of Arkansas Delta communities through targeted investments. These projects will create jobs, grow the economy and improve quality of life for Arkansans,” U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) said. “I’m proud to support DRA and its commitment to advance economic opportunities in the region.”
The eight projects are:
- Helena-West Helena transportation improvements
- The City of Helena-West Helena will use DRA funds to improve transportation infrastructure on Washington Street. Nineteen jobs are expected to be created by the project.
- DRA Investment: $589,000; Total Project Investment: $10,589,000
- Monticello railroad overpass expansion
- In partnership with Drew County and the Arkansas Department of Transportation, Monticello is using DRA funds to build a new railroad overpass. This project is expected to train two individuals.
- DRA Investment: $509,000; Total Project Investment: $8,109,000
- Pine Bluff Economic Research Center Expansion
- Using DRA funds, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff aims to expand the university’s Economic Research and Development Center (ERDC). The funds will also be used to enhance the ERDC’s Institute for Economic, Business & Community Development. Two jobs are expected to be created with 100 individuals projected to be trained.
- DRA Investment: $295,000
- Marshall sewer system expansion
- The City of Marshall is using its funding to extend existing sewer lines to provide utility services for a new hotel, as well as increasing the sewer line capacity for an elementary school and an apartment complex for the elderly. Nine jobs are projected to be created.
- DRA Investment: $231,770
- Wilmar sewer treatment plant improvements
- The City of Wilmar will be renovating an existing sewer treatment plant in order to expand the system capacity and improve services.
- DRA Investment: $200,000; Total Project Investment: $950,000
- Black River Technical College nursing program expansion
- The college will construct an Allied Health nursing facility at its Paragould campus. The new facility will serve as an instructional site for its Associate of Applied Science Traditional RN Pathway program. The project is expected to create three new jobs, retain five jobs and train 50 individuals.
- DRA Investment: $153,139; Total Project Investment: $1,209,847
- Fairfield Bay medical helicopter hangar
- Fairfield Bay will be constructing a new hangar to provide emergency medical helicopter service for the surrounding area. This provide is expected to create 10 new jobs.
- DRA Investment: $145,431; Total Project Investment: $160,990
- Walnut Ridge broadband improvements
- The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce will be installing a buried fiber optic cable network in order to provide high-speed internet and phone service for the Walnut Ridge Industrial Park.
- DRA Investment: $104,764
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