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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $2.5 Million in Support of STEM Workforce Development Near Opportunity Zone in North Little Rock, Arkansas

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $2.5 million grant to the University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College, North Little Rock, Arkansas, to update and expand its STEM-focused facilities in support of modern workforce development in Arkansas. The EDA grant, to be located near a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with more than $650,000 in local investment.

“The Trump Administration is committed to creating modern American jobs and ensuring U.S. business communities thrive,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The expanded Pulaski Technical College science building will support students pursuing the STEM careers essential to filling highly-skilled, well-paying jobs in Arkansas.”

“EDA’s history of successfully supporting recovery and resiliency efforts lends itself perfectly to increasing the Pulaski Technical College’s capacity to support students seeking technology-based jobs,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “The project will diversify the state’s economy, enabling the region to become more resilient to the economic impact of flooding. Its location near an Opportunity Zone will drive additional investment to the area.”

“STEM is driving innovation and industry,” said Senator John Boozman. “This grant to expand Pulaski Technical College’s facilities will encourage and improve STEM learning and help create a pipeline of employees for future well-paying jobs.”

“Skilled workforce development is critical to central Arkansas’s success because it gives Arkansans employment options, and I was proud to partner with Pulaski Tech to secure this $2.5 million Commerce Department grant to add up to 600 skilled jobs to our local workforce through Pulaski Tech’s new state-of-the-art STEM park, which will be a driver of economic opportunity and success for our community,” said Congressman French Hill (AR-02).

This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Central Arkansas Planning and Development District, which EDA funds the Central Arkansas Planning and Development District 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 by the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 (Pub. L. 116-20) (PDF), which provided EDA with $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program (PDF) Program funds for disaster relief and recovery for areas affected by Hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Lane, Typhoons Yutu and Mangkhut, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and other major natural disasters occurring in calendar year 2018, and tornadoes and floods occurring in calendar year 2019, under the Robert T. Stafford Act. Please visit EDA’s Disaster Supplemental webpage for more information.

The funding announced today will catalyze private investment in a nearby Opportunity Zone. Created by President Donald J. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones are spurring economic development in economically-distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority, which increases the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund to fuel greater public investment in these areas. To learn more about the Commerce Department’s work in Opportunity Zones, please visit EDA’s Opportunity Zones webpage. To learn more about the Opportunity Zone program, see the Opportunity Now resources webpage. To learn more about Opportunity Zone best practices, see the recently released White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council Report (PDF) to President Trump.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (
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.

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