LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (July 28, 2022) – The Arkansas Waterways Commission awarded grants totaling $1,952,102.55 to three Arkansas ports through the Arkansas Waterways Commission's Arkansas Port, Intermodal, and Waterway Development Grant Program. Through the grant program, ad valorem taxes paid by industries on the value of commodities shipped utilizing Arkansas' navigable waterways are reinvested into Arkansas ports to make capital improvements and facilitate dredging projects.
The three projects awarded grants are:
Helena-West Helena/Phillips County Port Authority was awarded $535,000.00 to construct a truck staging lane for Helm Fertilizer Road expansion, which is part of a $12 million phased expansion at Helena Harbor. The road expansion project will improve efficiency, flow, and safety for truck traffic, enable future development and attract additional industry to Helena Harbor.
Osceola Port Authority was awarded $417,102.55 to replace aging cargo handling equipment. Upgrading this equipment will help increase cargo handling capacity at the Osceola Port by improving the efficiency of loading and unloading barges and trucks.
West Memphis – Crittenden County Port Authority was awarded $1 million to remove metal dolphins and replace a mooring pylon north of the dock to improve dangerous water flow conditions, to mitigate/remove upstream debris, and to strengthen the dock substructure. This funding will help correct an eddy issue that has been inhibiting consistently reliable dock operations. Correcting the eddy will facilitate port and economic development and increase waterborne commerce and tonnage at the port.
"The Mississippi River is one of the world's most important commercial waterways," said Governor Asa Hutchinson. "The river forms the entire eastern border of Arkansas, and these three ports are responsible for importing and exporting billions of dollars in goods each year. It is vital that we maintain and improve the ports to ensure our state's economic health now and in the future."
"Located on the Mississippi River, these ports play a significant role in our state's livelihood," said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. "About 200 thousand tons of commodities pass by these ports each year, connecting Arkansas with markets around the world. These funds will make the ports more attractive for business and industry."
"Arkansas' commercially navigable waterways are a significant economic driver. Barge transportation is the most cost-effective, safe, and environmentally friendly mode of shipping bulk and oversized cargo," says AWC Director Cassandra Caldwell. "Between today's supply chain challenges, inflation, and rising fuel costs, Arkansas maintains an economic and competitive advantage by continuing to invest in its inland waterways infrastructure."
The grant was established by Act 1483 of the 89th General Assembly. A copy of the grant rules and application can be obtained in the Grant Program section of the Commission's website, www.waterways.arkansas.gov, or by calling 501-682-3163.
The Arkansas Waterways Commission is the sole state agency responsible for developing, promoting, and protecting waterborne transportation in Arkansas. The Commission also promotes economic development for ports on the five commercially navigable rivers of the state: the Arkansas, Mississippi, Ouachita, Red and White Rivers.
The Arkansas Department of Commerce is the umbrella department for workforce and economic development drivers. Its divisions and regulatory boards include Division of Aeronautics, Waterways Commission, Wine Producers Council, Division of Workforce Services, Office of Skills Development, State Bank Department, Insurance Department, Securities Department, Economic Development Commission and Development Finance Authority. It was established July 2019 as part of Governor Asa Hutchinson's wide-sweeping efficiency and transformation efforts to reduce 42 cabinet agencies to 15 while maintaining services for all Arkansans.