EDA Awards $1.4M in Grants to Northwest Arkansas

EDA Awards $1.4M in Grants to Northwest Arkansas
(Economic Development Administration)

The Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce announced on Friday a trio of grants totaling $1.4 million to three recipients in northwest Arkansas.

The recipients are: the World Trade Center Arkansas in Rogers, Benton County and the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.

"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 competitiveness," U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said in a news release.

Benton County received $551,013 to improve the Spanker Creek Bridge. The bridge is prone to flooding, and the EDA said an improved crossing would help local businesses operate more efficiently and allow their employees to make it work on time.

The chamber received $450,000 to buy equipment and hire staff for the NWA Regional Robotics Training Center and Fab Lab. 

The EDA said the center would provide training for employees from companies that have on-site robots, help train students and others who wish to become certified robotics technicians and that the lab would help provide entrepreneurs with resources to commercialize their ideas.

The World Trade Center Arkansas received $400,000 to expand exports statewide and to promote international agricultural and business trade in the 38 counties hit by natural disasters last winter.

"In addition to the personal loss, these disasters drain local governments and businesses of time and money," World Trade Center Arkansas President and CEO W. Dan Hendrix said. "The EDA has grants specifically aimed at disaster recovery and the center can use these funds to help farmers and businesses in these counties expand their access to global markets for their products."

The World Trade Center Arkansas has already helped Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale and Simmons Foods Inc. of Siloam Springs order 4,500 tons of chickens from Cuba and is negotiating the sale of rice grown in the Arkansas Delta to Cuba, according to the center.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said that since late 2013, the center generated more than $40 million in new and expanded trade revenue for Arkansas businesses.