Delta Regional Authority Chairman Chris Caldwell and Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday that the DRA will invest $2 million to provide safe and sanitary sewer and water service to rural families, increase economic development opportunities, enhance workforce training and development and improve healthcare.
The money includes $188,000 for wastewater system improvements in Altheimer and $250,000 to improve healthcare services in McGehee, according to a DRA news release.
Altheimer will use DRA funds to update its wastewater collection and treatment system by replacing four outdated and deteriorating pumps with new piping controls and electrical wiring to prevent sewage backups that would occur if the current system fails. The investment will improve life for 361 families, the news release said.
In McGehee, the hospital will use DRA funds to buy and install new digital radiography equipment in the McGhee Family Clinic, according to the release. The equipment is fully compatible with the hospital’s digital record system and will provide higher quality care to area residents from Desha, Dermott and northern Chicot counties. The initiative will create one new job and retain four others.
DRA’s investments, along with other public and private partners, will bring a total of $18.8 million in new investments to Arkansas, the news release said.
“DRA’s investments will promote economic development opportunities across the Natural State by supporting infrastructure improvements that will lead to more jobs and better healthcare services in Arkansas’s rural communities,” Caldwell said. “Every time we invest in critical infrastructure improvements, we are making a commitment to improving lives, growing jobs and enhancing economic competitiveness across the Delta region.”
A summary of DRA’s statewide investments includes 12 projects for a total of $2,040,625. The improvements will affect 6,033 families and create or retain 179 jobs, according to the news release.
“This investment will undoubtedly improve the local economies and enhance economic development in our rural communities,” Hutchinson said. “But even more so, this investment will improve the lives for thousands of residents in rural parts of our state, and I commend DRA for its commitment to funding projects like these to further enhance the quality of life in the Arkansas Delta region.”
Arkansas’ congressional delegation issued the following statements about the projects:
“These investments by the DRA will build and enhance infrastructure in Arkansas Delta communities, which is key to positioning them for future economic growth and development. Meeting the needs of these communities through targeted investment projects will create jobs, grow the economy and improve quality of life for Arkansans,” said U.S. Sen. John Boozman.
“The Delta Regional Authority’s routine investment in rural Arkansas seeks to improve Arkansans’ quality of life through its focus on workforce development and essential infrastructure,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton. “These latest efforts will help many delta communities make critical updates that increase economic opportunity and prosperity.”
“Infrastructure is a key ingredient in creating economic growth, and is a consistent struggle for many small towns in Arkansas’ First District,” said U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford. “I welcome these recent investments from the DRA which will help bridge the gap faced by many communities in rural Arkansas.”
“Our Arkansas communities will immeasurably benefit from DRA’s investment, making the Natural State a better place to live and work,” said U.S. Rep. French Hill. “I’m pleased that this investment will create new jobs and grow our local economies right here in our state, and I look forward to seeing how Arkansans lives will further improve.”
“The Delta Regional Authority’s investment into our state will positively impact Arkansas families and communities,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Womack. “These funds will improve and upgrade infrastructure, boost job creation, and promote economic opportunity. Our region continues to grow and modernizing our systems is critical to creating a stronger and more prosperous state for years to come.”
“I am excited to see this investment being made at home to Arkansas,” said U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman. “Without an investment in our local communities, we cannot expect our economy to grow. These investments will help Arkansas communities add jobs and opportunity.”
The investments are made through DRA’s States’ Economic Development Assistance Program, the agency’s main federal funding program that invests in basic public infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, workforce development, and small business and entrepreneurship projects, the news release said.
Other cities awarded money and the projects that will be possible because of the funds are listed below:
CITY OF WILSON: Water infrastructure improvements. DRA Investment: $275,000. Wilson will use DRA funds to install new water lines from its treatment plant to serve two existing businesses and one new business. The improvements, which will improve life for 103 families, will also enhance fire safety and water management.
CITY OF NEWPORT: Existing business expansion. DRA Investment: $267,676. Newport will use DRA funds to build a 25,000-square-foot healthcare educational facility that will be leased to Arkansas State University – Newport, which will train 216 nurses and others in related fields each year. Training programs will focus on nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, surgical technicians and patient care technicians for jobs that would be available locally at Unity Health Harris Medical Center.
CITY OF LITTLE ROCK: Workforce training and development. DRA Investment: $256,565. The Associated Industries of Arkansas will use DRA funds to purchase a new tractor and trailer to house the Be Pro Be Proud workforce training initiative that travels across Arkansas to promote technical and skilled professions to students. The initiative allows students, parents, teachers and the public to learn more about successful careers that are available in manufacturing, trucking and construction.
CITY OF HELENA-WEST HELENA: Sewage treatment improvements. DRA Investment: $225,000. Helena-West Helena will use DRA funds to repair exterior levee walls supporting treatment ponds in the city. The antiquated levees are deteriorating and a breach would cause untreated sewage to flow onto farmland and a nearby subdivision, and into the Mississippi River. The upgrade will protect area residents and businesses from unsafe and unsanitary conditions and improve life for 4,600 families.
CITY OF EL DORADO: Workforce training and development. DRA Investment: $200,000. South Arkansas Community College will use DRA funds to convert an existing building into the South Arkansas Center for the Culinary Arts. About 25 individuals will be trained for jobs in the culinary industry.
CITY OF NEWARK: Water system improvements. DRA Investment: $145,212. Newark will create 12 new jobs with installation of a new water line that will support a business expansion. The current water line must be relocated to eliminate damage during the installation of a railroad spur and equipment that will serve the business. About 486 families will see improved service with the new water line.
CITY OF WYNNE: Existing business expansion. DRA Investment: $87,167. DRA funds will be used to help create 15 new jobs and retain 20 others by allowing a local business to hook up to Wynne’s sewer system. The rice mill now operates on a septic tank that will not accommodate expansion of the business. The mill will gain more efficient and improved service by connecting directly to the city system.
CITY OF MCCRORY: Wastewater system improvements. DRA Investment: $80,750. McCrory will upgrade its lift station, an improvement that will help retain 127 jobs and improve life for 436 families. The current lift station is deteriorating and threatens to expose residents and businesses to raw sewage.
TOWN OF DATTO: Wastewater system improvements. DRA Investment: $42,100. Datto residents are currently unable to flush toilets, do laundry or shower during heavy-rain events. With DRA’s investment, the town will build a new wastewater collection system, providing reliable and safe wastewater collection; about 40 families will see their lives improved.
CITY OF ST. CHARLES: Water and sewer system improvements. DRA Investment: $23,155. St. Charles will extend water and sewer lines to provide service to seven families along Crabtree Lane.
About the Delta Regional Authority
The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. DRA has invested more than $185 million into more than 1,100 projects. Overall, DRA investments have helped create and retain more than 55,000 jobs, train nearly 45,000 workers to advance in the 21st Century, and deliver sewer and water improvements to more than 238,000 residents and businesses. Learn more at dra.gov.