Commerce grants to aid Arkansas projects


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Commerce Department announced $6.9 million in disaster grants Wednesday to assist in repairing infrastructure damage in Arkansas caused by severe storms and flooding in 2011.

The cities of Clinton, Fairfield Bay, Heber Springs and Stuttgart will receive the funding, as well as Mid-South Community College in West Memphis.

Funding will also help the Little Rock Port Authority expand facilities and attract new business, the Commerce Department said.

“The six grants … will help Arkansas communities recover from flood damage and rebuild infrastructure crucial for strengthening the local economy and creating jobs,” Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said in a release.

In Clinton, an EDA grant of $1.4 million will help rebuild and upgrade the city’s water treatment facilities, which were severely damaged by floods last year. Officials said the improvements would help increase economic activity for the area surrounding Greers Ferry Lake, an economic driver for the north central region of Arkansas.

A $1.1 million grant will help fund repairs to the Fairfield Bay Conference Center and the rebuilding of West Cliff Drive, the main thoroughfare for an adjoining 400-slip marina. Both suffered major damage from storms and flooding in 2011.

In Heber Springs, a $1 million grant will help fund repairs to the city’s water treatment plant, which experienced high turbidity spikes and sedimentation in its water supply as a result of runoff caused by floods last year.

A $1 million grant in Stuttgart will help fund repairs to Hartz Road, a major access route into the Stuttgart East Industrial Park.

A $1.5 million grant for Mid-South Community College will assist construction of the Mid-South Aviation and Manufacturing Training Facility. The new training facility will support work force development programs of the Arkansas Delta Training and Education Consortium, a partnership of five community colleges that are committed to the economic development of the 12 counties of eastern Arkansas.

A $960,000 public works grant will help fund construction of the Arkansas River Resource Center at the Little Rock Port Authority, a state-of-the-art facility, and also will benefit the adjacent Little Rock Port Industrial Park. Officials estimate the project will create 45 new jobs.