State Economic Development Districts Get $3.2M for COVID-19 Response

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced Tuesday that the department’s Economic Development Administration has awarded $3.2 million in CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants to eight Arkansas Economic Development District organizations.

The money will got to update economic development plans and “fortify programs to assist communities in responding to the coronavirus pandemic,” U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said in a news release.

Each district will get $400,000. The EDA money will go to:

  • Central Arkansas Planning & Development District, Lonoke, which will use the money for “focused research into the economic impacts, job losses, and business disruption resulting from the pandemic, and by developing strategies to enhance their region’s capacity to recover from the immediate crisis and prepare for future economic growth opportunities.”
  • East Arkansas Planning & Development District, Jonesboro, which will use the money for “technical assistance to the cities, counties, businesses, and other development organizations in their region to boost economic development initiatives.”
  • Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District, Harrison, which will use the money to hire more staff “to focus on implementing strategies to help the region’s economy continue to grow despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19.”
  • Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District, Pine Bluff, which will use the money to hire more staff “to increase its communication platforms and support disaster resiliency efforts for their region.”
  • Southwest Arkansas Planning & Development District, Magnolia, which will use the money to increase capacity “to assist with training, strategic planning, and project development and implementation.”
  • West Central Arkansas Planning & Development District, Hot Springs, which will use the money to support “the region’s public and private sectors with identifying and accessing resources necessary to build a more resilient economy.”
  • Western Arkansas Planning & Development District, Fort Smith, which will use the money to respond “to workforce needs, conduct additional outreach for current and future pandemic response, and to hire additional staff to coordinate communication efforts.”
  • White River Planning & Development District, Batesville, which will use the money to dedicate staff “to implement strategies to grow the region’s businesses and manufacturing sector, and to support rapidly growing workforce needs.”

The CARES Act, signed into law by President Trump, provides EDA with $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to the pandemic.