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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $1.7 Million to Boost Capacity of the Port of Epes Industrial Park in Livingston, Alabama, Opportunity Zone

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.7 million grant to the University of West Alabama, Livingston, Alabama, to improve barge access at the Port of Epes Industrial Park. The EDA grant, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $540,000 in local funds and is expected to create 85 jobs and generate $175 million in private investment.

“The Trump Administration is committed to helping communities in Alabama and across the nation grow through strategic investment,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “This project will fund improvements to transportation infrastructure at the Port of Epes Industrial Park to help a major wood pellet company increase their operational capacity, attract new businesses, and advance efforts to capitalize on the project’s Opportunity Zone designation.”

“EDA is pleased to support local strategies to spur additional development at the Port of Epes Industrial Park,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This project will provide Sumter County with expanded industrial transportation infrastructure to support businesses and drive development. The project’s location in an Opportunity Zone will further transform the community.”

“Already, the Opportunity Zones across our state are helping boost the chance for economic prosperity, and this $1.7 million investment in Livingston, Alabama certainly adds to that effort,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “I am proud that the Trump Administration continues following through on their commitment to grow opportunities across our state and the nation. This is a welcome investment, and I am grateful to President Trump and Secretary Ross for their constant support for Alabama.”

“This $1.7 million EDA grant for the Port of Epes infrastructure project will improve barge access and increase the capacity of the industrial park,” said Senator Richard Shelby. “The funding will help create jobs and fuel the local economy, encouraging and enabling long-term economic benefits to West Alabama. I am pleased to have worked with the Administration to support this project and look forward to its completion.”

“I am so excited that the Port of Epes in Livingston in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District has been granted the funding necessary to promote economic opportunity for our workers and families in the Black Belt,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07). “There is nothing more important to me than increasing opportunity in my district. That is why I have fought so hard to make Alabama’s Opportunity Zone program work for areas like the Black Belt, where communities will most benefit from investments and job development.”

This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission, which EDA funds 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.

The funding announced today goes to one of Alabama’s 158 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.

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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