Local, state and federal leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday for $11 million in transportation infrastructure projects at the Port of Little Rock.
Work has begun to widen and improve Zeuber Road to meet heavy industrial standards in anticipation of new companies locating their facilities there. The companies include Czech gunmaker CZ-USA, e-commerce giant Amazon and HMS Mfg. Co., a global manufacturer of houseware products.
In addition to the $5 million to improve Zeuber Road, another $6 million will be spent on additional road widening, intersection improvements and new road construction, to accommodate increased transportation capacity needs associated with the companies.
The CZ-USA project was announced last year by the governor and company officials. The company plans to open a $90 million gun manufacturing operation and North American headquarters that will employ 565 people.
Amazon of Seattle officially closed on its $3.2 million acquisition of city-owned land at the port in May. It plans to open a 3 million-SF distribution center. The company has not announced how many jobs the center would create or how much it’s investing in that project.
HMS Mfg. Co. of Troy, Michigan, and state officials announced in October that the company would open a $20 million 550,000-SF injection molding facility at the port, creating about 90 jobs over the next two years.
The infrastructure projects have received funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the city and Pulaski County. The $6 million project has also received funding from the Delta Regional Authority.
Officials said, as the Port continues to acquire land for future industrial sites, the improvements will offer expansion opportunities to existing companies and attract more new companies to the port, and provide a safer and more efficient transportation system for employees, customers and suppliers.
The port has immediate access to rail, highway and waterway; it is home to more than 40 businesses that employ 4,000-plus.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. emphasized the importance of the group effort that has made these improvements possible, and that the companies they’re being done for are bringing in a projected 4,000-5,000 new jobs.
“It would not have happened if we did not focus on the mighty word ‘we,'” he said. “That’s what’s going to have our future, that’s why CZ-USA chose us, that’s the reason why HMS chose us, that’s the reason why Amazon not only chose us for this project but for another project in southwest Little Rock.”