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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $3.5 Million to Make Disaster Resilient Infrastructure Improvements Needed to Boost Tech-based Economic Development in Ruston, Louisiana Opportunity Zone

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3.5 million grant to the city of Ruston, Louisiana, to make disaster resilient infrastructure improvements needed to advance Ruston as a hub for technology-based economic development. The EDA grant, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $967,977 in local funds and is expected to create 350 jobs and attract $25 million in private investment.

“The Trump Administration is committed to creating new opportunities for Americans by securing the modern infrastructure they need to encourage future economic growth,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The infrastructure upgrades to Ruston’s electrical and fiberoptic network will provide businesses in an Opportunity Zone with uninterrupted power sources, allowing them to continue operations in the event of a natural disaster.”

“Ruston was severely impacted by a tornado in spring of 2019,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This project will help Ruston become more resilient to future natural disasters, support the development of Ruston’s a Smart Cities Innovation Testbed project in partnership with Louisiana Tech University, and further incentivize new business development in the region due to the project’s location in an Opportunity Zone.”

“Ruston continues to recover from last spring’s tornado,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. “This investment is a win-win: it makes Ruston more resilient to disasters in the future and creates jobs in process.”

“Louisianians are some of the toughest people in the country, and this $3.5 million will support vital infrastructure improvements to help Ruston’s businesses work through severe storms,” said Senator John Kennedy. “This investment and last year’s transportation award shows that our federal partners are committed to the city’s tech-based economic development. I’m grateful for the EDA’s leadership in supporting new opportunities that will benefit the people of Ruston for many years to come.”

“Ruston is a vital part of north Louisiana’s technology corridor and I’m happy to see these federal and local funds being put to work in support of better infrastructure and more jobs in our communities,” said Congressman Ralph Abraham (LA-05). “I thank President Trump and Secretary Ross for keeping their promise to create opportunities like this throughout the country which increase economic opportunity and build on America’s competitive edge.”

The funding announced today goes to one of Louisiana’s 150 Opportunity Zones. 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.

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) 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.

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.

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