Jonesboro received two grants totaling $2.5 million to install a new rail storage facility near the Craighead Technology Park that will benefit manufacturers by giving them greater capacity to move products.
Those manufacturers include Nestlé, Frito-Lay, Trinity Rail and Post Foods.
The Department of Economic Development Administration awarded the project $2 million, and the Delta Regional Authority awarded it $509,000.
The city said the new facility will create 125 jobs and retain 405 jobs. The spur will be built west of the technology park on a 9.6-acre tract that runs along the existing city-owned rail line. There, four new dead-end tracks will create room to store 120 rail cars.
Construction is set to begin next year, according to Mark Young, president and CEO of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Young told Arkansas Business late Tuesday that the project is part of Jonesboro’s long-term Master Rail Plan, designed in part to address the city’s current “landlocked” rail storage facility. That facility is located downtown and is owned by Burlington Northern,
“The importance of having a real storage facility is so that we can continue to grow and expand our rail-served industrial clients and new rail projects in the future,” Young said. “We've got great companies that use rail in our industrial park, and, again, we wanted to make sure that we could continue to meet and exceed their needs, and, in addition to that, be able to recruit new companies in the future.”
More: See maps of the Craighead Technology Park here.
The DRA grant for the rail storage facility is one of 16 awarded, a total of $5.3 million, for projects that will improve water and sewer systems, update transportation infrastructure, support innovative job training and improve health care services in Arkansas.
The projects are expected to create or retain 4,432 jobs, train 5,081 individuals and affect more than 6,300 families.
The grants were awarded through the DRA’s States’ Economic Development Assistance Program and Community Infrastructure Fund. The DRA also said its grants would be matched by $23.6 million and will attract an additional $176.7 million in leveraged private investment to the state.
Many of the projects are also in northeast Arkansas. Those are:
- Adding a mechanical mixer, an overflow pipe and manway to Caraway’s water tank. (DRA investment: $183,275; total investment: $183,275);
- Rebuilding sewage treatment sand filters in Hughes (DRA investment: $206,000; total investment: $1.03 million);
- Replacing two water pumps in Trumann (DRA investment: $117,881; total investment: $192,881);
- Replacing a roof and insulation and making electrical improvements at an agricultural produce storing facility in Augusta (DRA investment: $228,634; total investment: $533,464):
- Renovating and upgrading a 277,000-SF building for business development in Ash Flat (DRA investment: $307,000; total investment: $27.8 million);
- Rehabilitating a portion of the rail and road systems serving Helena Harbor (DRA investment: $528,922; total investment: $558,922);
- Upgrading Blytheville’s jet fuel delivery system (DRA Investment: $182,765; Total Investment: $300,761);
- Repairing two elevated water storage tanks in Crawfordsville (DRA Investment: $206,000; Total Investment: $406,000): and
- Installing a cascade aerator and high service pumps in Maynard (DRA Investment: $57,750; Total Investment: $219,750).