Port authorities in central Arkansas broke ground Thursday (Aug. 29) on the Arkansas River Resource Center at the Port of Little Rock.

The nearly 5,000 sq. ft. building will house The Little Rock Port Authority, The Little Rock Port Authority Shortline Railroad and The Arkansas Waterways Commission. The facility is to be built on 4.2 acres at the end of Industrial Harbor Drive, on the banks of the Arkansas River.

The construction cost of the center is $1.85 million. The Economic Development Administration (EDA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce is providing a grant for $940,000 of the cost. The Port of Little Rock, which receives no tax funding, is paying the balance out of earnings saved for the last several years.

The center will feature high-tech audio-visual systems, conference rooms and meeting space and is designed to enhance economic development, marketing and educational activities related to navigation of the Arkansas River, according to a press release from the Port.

“The Port of Little Rock is an incredible economic engine for the city and it’s vitally important to our growth. This new investment is further example of the decades of planning and vision that has made Little Rock a regional powerhouse in industrial and economic development,” said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola.

Jon Wickliffe, chairman of the Little Rock Port Authority said, “The Port of Little Rock is home to a dynamic and diverse group of manufacturers and businesses, and this facility will improve the service to these companies and for those who locate here in the future. The Resource Center will help us attract new companies and create new jobs for the city and region.” The Port of Little Rock was established in 1959 by state enabling legislation and the City of Little Rock.

The intermodal transportation hub features a 2,640 acre industrial park, two full-service river terminals, its own switching railroad, the Slackwater Harbor, and is designated as a U.S. Customs Point of Entry and Foreign Trade Zone 14.

In addition to serving as a port for the 448-mile McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, it also delivers cargo for road transportation due to its proximity to I-440, I-30 and I-40.

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