EDA: $2 Million in CARES Act Recovery Assistance Invested to Support Broadband Infrastructure in Little River County, AR

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $2 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to Little River County, Arkansas, to construct fiber optic cable lines to support broadband infrastructure. This EDA grant will be matched with $500,000 in local funds.

“President Biden is committed to supporting communities as they not only recover from this pandemic, but build back stronger,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “This EDA investment in Little River County will expand access to high-speed internet services, which will attract new businesses to the region and lead to a stronger, more resilient economy.”

“The Economic Development Administration supports community-led economic development strategies designed to boost coronavirus recovery and response efforts,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This EDA investment will construct the fiber optic cable lines needed to support new and existing employers in the regions.”

“In our ever-increasing digital world, the need for broadband connectivity has never been greater,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “I’m appreciative of the investment by the Economic Development Administration and local dollars to increase access to high-speed internet and provide opportunities for economic growth.”

“The CARES Act continues to deliver for Arkansas communities and help economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator John Boozman. “This EDA investment is critical to closing the digital divide and expanding broadband so Arkansans have access to reliable high-speed internet connectivity which has become indispensable to improving quality of life and the success of local economies.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted a significant need for broadband infrastructure in the Fourth District, and I am grateful the bipartisan CARES Act is making this grant possible,” said Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04). “Reliable broadband will open a host of possibilities for the members of this community, creating a stronger economy and a more robust education system.”

This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District (SWAPDD). EDA funds SWAPDD to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development roadmap to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment, and create jobs.

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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