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Contact: Public Affairs Department, (202) 482-4085
Thursday, September 20, 2012

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $2.7 Million to Rebuild Critical Infrastructure in Arkansas and Louisiana

WASHINGTON - Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today announced two Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants totaling $2.7 million to help Arkansas and Louisiana make critical infrastructure improvements needed to create economic opportunity and jobs in the wake of recent natural disasters in 2011.

"These $2.7 million in Economic Development Administration investments in Arkansas and Louisiana are examples of the Obama administration's commitment to strengthening our nation's critical infrastructure and helping communities recover from natural disasters," said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. "The grants announced today will help Louisiana and Arkansas rebuild a vital rail link and help Arkansas improve water and sewer services in a flood-impacted community. These infrastructure improvements will help ensure that both states are able to attract and support businesses and jobs, thereby strengthening the local economy."

"Many Arkansas communities were hit especially hard by last year's storms," said U.S. Senator Mark Pryor. "While Pine Bluff and Perryville have taken steps to recover, these EDA grants will help these communities complete critical infrastructure projects they need to attract economic development and boost local job creation."

The investments announced today include a $2 million EDA investment in the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District, Inc. of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and the Lake Providence, Louisiana, Port Commission, which will rehabilitate a currently inoperable rail line of the North Louisiana Arkansas Railroad's rail line that runs between Lake Village, Arkansas, and Lake Providence, Louisiana. The improvements will provide a connection with the Union Pacific Railroad and are a critical component of broader efforts to restore vital transportation infrastructure that was damaged by two major storms in 2011 and subsequent flooding of the Mississippi River.

Also announced today is a $751,000 EDA investment in Perryville, Arkansas, that will help to improve the city's water treatment plant, which was unable to service the city during severe flooding in 2011. The improvements include raising lagoon levees above the 100-year floodplain elevation, so that the plant can guarantee it will be able to meet the region's water and sewer needs and service local businesses and industry.

These projects are part of a $200 million appropriation made by Congress to EDA to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011 with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support.

Within the context of the administration's National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), EDA serves as the Coordinating Agency on behalf of the Department of Commerce for the Economic Recovery Support Function (RSF) to coordinate the activities of a diverse group of partner agencies supporting recovery in disaster-impacted communities. The activities consist primarily of leveraging existing resources and authorities to make a positive impact for communities affected by 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.