EDA: $1.6 Million in CARES Act Recovery Assistance Invested to Help Louisiana Ports Respond to Disasters and Better Prepare for Future Challenges

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.6 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to The Water Institute of the Gulf, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to develop the Lower Mississippi SmartPort and Resilience Center (SmartPort). This EDA grant, to be matched with $1.4 million in state funds and $26,000 in local funds, is expected to create 31 jobs, retain 64 jobs, and generate $2 million in private investment.

“President Biden is committed to unleashing the full power of the federal government to ensure our nation not only recovers from this pandemic but builds back better,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “SmartPort will use data and analytics to improve business continuity and preparedness, which will better enable Louisiana ports to respond to disasters and prepare for future economic challenges.”

“The Economic Development Administration plays an important role in supporting community-led economic development strategies designed to boost coronavirus recovery and response efforts,” said Dennis Alvord, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “This EDA investment will integrate several port systems by facilitating, displaying, and managing dynamic port resilience dashboards, allowing ports to assess, prioritize, and monitor their status, creating a more resilient regional economy.”

“With the SmartPort initiative, Louisiana is taking a major leading role in bringing technological efficiencies to maritime commerce,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “Louisianans are keenly aware of the vital role the Mississippi River plays in our history, our economic successes, and our future. This grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration is an affirmation that they, too, understand the role that safe, efficient river-based transportation plays in the broader U.S. economy. With the support of ports along the river, the SmartPort program will help us set a new standard for safety and emergency management.”

“With this grant funding, SmartPort is another step closer to reality,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. “The Gulf plays a critical role in maritime commerce and this collaborative partnership will improve and streamline operations, and ultimately support future job opportunities along the Mississippi River.”

“The Mississippi River is America’s Commerce Superhighway. Its capacity and importance to the U.S. economy is second to none,” said Congressman Garret Graves (LA-06). “When the channel fills in and large ships are unable to safely transit the river, it sends ripple effects through Louisiana’s economy and impacts our jobs. This grant will allow the Water Institute of the Gulf, the ports and other partners to identify areas that need dredging before they become a problem. This benefits the resiliency of the channel, jobs and our economy. This is a great example of how new technology can help to solve old problems.”

This project is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136 PDF), which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) (PDF) program, provides a wide-range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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