Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding $3 million in American Rescue Plan grants to support Arkansas as it recovers from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The EDA investments announced today are:
Garland County, Arkansas, will receive a $1 million grant to construct the Garland County portion of the Southwest Trail, a multi-county bicycle and pedestrian trail. The trail will connect Little Rock, Arkansas, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, attracting tourists and boosting outdoor recreation in the region. The project will be matched with $250,000 in local funds.
Saline County, Arkansas, will receive a $1 million grant to restore the historic Old River Bridge over the Saline River as part of the Southwest Trail, attracting tourists and boosting outdoor recreation in the region. The project will be matched with $250,169 in local funds.
City of Marion, Arkansas, will receive a $1 million grant for construction of the Sultana Disaster Museum attracting new visitors to the eastern Delta region. The project will be matched with $250,000 in local funds and is expected to create 90 jobs and generate $200,000 in private investment, according to grantee estimates.
“President Biden knows that the travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation sector is a critical driver for our nation’s economy,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “These EDA investments will create new tourism destinations across the state of Arkansas, attracting new visitors to the state and providing opportunities for businesses to grow and thrive.”
“The Economic Development Administration is dedicated to working with communities to support their locally-driven strategies to recover and rebuild from the pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “We are pleased to partner with Garland and Saline Counties and the city of Marion to develop new opportunities to boost outdoor recreation and tourism, diversifying the regional economy.”
“A deep and rich history, natural beauty from the flats of the Delta to the Ozarks, and a wide variety of hiking, biking, and other outdoor recreation options for adventurers of all skill levels are some of the reasons we call Arkansas the Natural State,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “This investment will enhance our efforts to preserve Arkansas’s story and conserve our natural resources for Arkansans, and further strengthen our tourism industry, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors who travel here from other places every year.”
These projects are funded under EDA’s $240 million competitive American Rescue Plan Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation program. EDA awarded $510 million in grants to all 50 states and territories in 2021. The two programs are designed to accelerate the recovery of communities that rely on the travel, tourism and outdoor recreation sectors. Effective May 26, 2022, 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, 2022.
These projects were made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Central Arkansas Planning and Development District (CAPDD), the West Central Arkansas Planning and Development District (WCAPDD), and the East Arkansas Planning and Development District (EAPDD). EDA funds CAPDD, WCAPDD, and EAPDD to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development roadmap to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment and create jobs.