One objective former Lawrence County Judge Dale Freeman had during his tenure was to pave Lawrence County Road 210, a rural thoroughfare that connects a budding new business, American Silica, to Black Rock.
He also wanted it paved to reduce the amount of dust produced from large trucks driving the road, and the impact it had on residents. Freeman died from complications after a vehicle wreck in August 2016, but his goal to pave the road is now one step closer to reality.
The Delta Regional Authority will provide $250,000 to pave the road it was announced Thursday. Another $250,000 will be spent in Cleveland County to improve water infrastructure to aid two businesses. The grants will help create 30 new jobs, and retain another 58 jobs, DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell said.
“These investments align with DRA’s primary goal of investing in infrastructure that supports growth in Delta communities,” Caldwell said. “DRA is committed to making a significant economic impact and delivering the greatest return in rural areas in Arkansas and across the region.”
Lawrence County Road 210 needs about two miles to be paved, Lawrence County Judge John Thomison told Talk Business & Politics. The county has already received a $300,000 state block grant toward the project, and the county will seek another $450,000 grant from the federal economic development administration to complete the nearly $1 million project. A timetable to start work on the project has not been set, he said.
“We’ve been working very hard on this,” the judge said.
The grants were made through DRA’s program partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Both are part of DRA’s primary mission to invest in basic public infrastructure that strengthens economic development and job growth in rural areas, Caldwell said. In 2017, DRA invested $2.8 million in nine Arkansas projects. Combined with public and private investments, the total in the state reached $25.5 million and helped create or retain nearly 1,200 jobs, according to DRA.
American Silica, a $48 million sand manufacturing plant located on more than 250 acres, became operational in January 2017. The plant is projected to produce 1.5 million tons of sand per year when its fully operational. It is expected to employ up to 60 workers, he said.
American Silica, based in Brooksville, Fla., produces sand used in hydraulic fracturing. Sand, water, and other chemicals are pumped into a natural gas mine, and pressure forces fractures in the bedrock, releasing the natural gas. The company also owns a quarry east of Cave City, Arkansas.
In Cleveland County, the water system improvement will extend service to a lumber mill expanding along Arkansas 79, according to DRA. In addition, the enhanced water system will allow a poultry farm to expand operations and double its capacity. About 20 new jobs will be created while another 13 jobs will be retained by the two businesses; water improvements also will benefit 650 families in the area.