WASHINGTON (KNWA/KFTA) — On July 19, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.7 million grant to the city of Fort Smith to construct roadway infrastructure to support growth at Stephens Industrial Park and the surrounding area.

According to an EDA press release, this grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan. The project will provide the access needed for manufacturing businesses to develop and grow, creating new job opportunities in the region. 

This EDA grant will be matched with $415,878 in local funds and is expected to create or retain 84 jobs and generate $119 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates.

“President Biden is committed to supporting communities in recovering from the pandemic as they build a stronger America for the future,” said Secretary Raimondo. “This EDA investment will play an important role in supporting existing businesses and creating new opportunities for manufacturers in Fort Smith, creating a stronger, robust regional economy.”

“The Economic Development Administration plays an important role in supporting community-led economic development strategies designed to boost coronavirus recovery and response efforts,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “We are pleased to partner with the city of Fort Smith to provide critical infrastructure to attract new businesses and encourage business development to create increased employment opportunities in the region.”

“Fort Smith has been a cornerstone of economic success for Western Arkansas and continues to attract significant industry and military investment,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “The $1.7 million from the American Rescue Plan to support the construction of roads and other infrastructure at Stephens Industrial Park is a well-deserved boost to Fort Smith as it builds for a bright future.”

This project is funded under EDA’s American Rescue Plan Economic Adjustment Assistance Program, which makes $500 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance grants available to American communities. The Economic Adjustment Assistance program is EDA’s most flexible program, and grants made under this program will help hundreds of communities across the nation plan, build, innovate, and put people back to work through construction or non-construction projects designed to meet local needs.

Effective May 26, EDA has officially closed all of its American Rescue Plan programs for applications. The $3 billion program funding will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30.