Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $2.5 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas, to develop the HBCU Center of Excellence in Digital Education and Rural Workforce Development. This EDA grant, to be matched with $638,420 in local investment, is expected to create 65 jobs and generate $400,000 in private investment.
“The Biden Administration is committed to putting Americans back to work, and providing the training needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Historically Black Colleges and Universities play an important role in creating economic opportunity in their communities, and through this EDA investment Philander Smith College will develop and build a comprehensive digital learning center to provide students with the skills and opportunities needed to earn well-paying, quality jobs.”
“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. “The EDA investment will allow for the renovation of the fine arts building, to create digital learning opportunities, technical assistance for aspiring entrepreneurs, and workforce development outreach and training, providing new opportunities to create a stronger, highly trained workforce.”
“For almost 150 years, Philander Smith College has played a vital role in educating and improving economic conditions for generations of minority students in Arkansas,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “The pandemic has also disproportionately affected minority-owned businesses, but I am confident that the funds from this CARES grant will support COVID recovery efforts by creating jobs and also by giving qualified workers the skills they need to succeed in today’s knowledge-based economy.”
“Workforce training and education are essential parts of economic development and recovery,” said Senator John Boozman. “Creating a dedicated place for this effort on the campus of Philander Smith College will help realize opportunities to strengthen the region’s ability to attract new industries, expand existing businesses and help workers acquire the skills needed to fill good jobs. I’m pleased the EDA is making this investment in the community and the people of Central Arkansas.”
“Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) produce thousands of talented students each year, and I was honored to address the graduates of Philander Smith College (PSC) this weekend about the role they can plan in benefitting the communities in Arkansas and across the country through their career,” said Congressman French Hill (AR-02). “I was pleased to support the CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant awarded to PSC by the EDA which will help bolster private investment and partnerships to help create jobs and economic opportunity for the current and future graduates.”
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 makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.