U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced Friday that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding $1.4 million in grants to the state of Arkansas to help protect businesses and jobs in the event of flooding, to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and to spur exports.
“The Economic Development Administration plays an important role in supporting the Commerce Department’s ‘Open for Business’ agenda that focuses on advancing innovation and strengthening our nation’s global competiveness,” Pritzker said in a news release. “The EDA investments announced today support local Arkansas initiatives to protect and grow the state’s economy.”
The grants were announced Friday during a news conference at the World Trade Center Arkansas headquarters in Rogers.
The EDA investments announced are:
* Benton County will receive $551,013 to help complete the Spanker Creek Bridge project. The Spanker Creek Bridge is highly traveled and is prone to issues with flooding. Benton County identified this infrastructure project as critical to the county due to its importance to the local economy. The improved crossing will ensure that local businesses will be able to continue to operate efficiently and employees can make it to work in the event of future floods.
* The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce will receive $450,000 to purchase robotic equipment and hire staff to support the launch the NWA Regional Robotics Training Center and Fab Lab. The Robotics Training Center will provide training for employees from companies who have on-site robots and will also help train students and others who wish to become certified robotics technicians. The Fab Lab will help provide entrepreneurs with the resources they need to commercialize their ideas.
* The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees in Fayetteville will receive $400,000 to bolster the World Trade Center Arkansas’ ability to promote expansion of exports from Arkansas, especially in counties affected by natural disasters, including the Arkansas Delta. The Center’s international trade guidance has generated new and expanded revenue of more than $40 million since late 2013, yet much more potential for international trade remains untapped. This EDA investment will ensure the success of these and other international trade efforts.