The University of West Alabama has received a $1.7 million (€1.43 million) grant by the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to improve barge access at the Port of Epes Industrial Park.
The EDA grant – to be allocated in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone - will be matched with $540,000 (€455,000) in local funds and is expected to create 85 jobs and generate $175 million (€147 million) in private investment.
Major wood pellet producer Enviva has invested more than $140 million (€118 million) in a pellet production facility at the Port of Epes Industrial Park and will benefit from the improvements made at the site.
US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said: “The Trump Administration is committed to helping communities in Alabama and across the nation grow through strategic investment.
“This project will fund improvements to transportation infrastructure at the Port of Epes Industrial Park to help a major wood pellet company increase their operational capacity, attract new businesses, and advance efforts to capitalise on the project’s Opportunity Zone designation.”
“The EDA is pleased to support local strategies to spur additional development at the Port of Epes Industrial Park,” said Dana Gartzke, performing the delegated duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.
“This project will provide Sumter County with expanded industrial transportation infrastructure to support businesses and drive development. The project’s location in an Opportunity Zone will further transform the community.”
The Opportunity Zones across Alabama are helping to boost the chance for economic prosperity, and this $1.7 million (€1.43 million) investment “adds to that effort”, according to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.
“I am proud that the Trump Administration continues following through on their commitment to grow opportunities across our state and the nation,” said Governor Ivey. “This is a welcome investment, and I am grateful to President Trump and Secretary Ross for their constant support for Alabama.”