On Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a grant for $1.8 million to the city of West Plains.
The funds will go toward critical infrastructure improvements needed to establish stormwater detention basins to protect the local business community from flooding. The grant, to be matched with $725,000 in state investment, is expected to attract $4 million in private investment and create or retain 225 jobs, according to EDA officials.
“The Trump Administration has prioritized rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and improving the country’s economic resilience in the wake of natural disasters,” said Ross. “This investment will provide West Plains with the critical infrastructure they need to combat flash flooding and protect local and small businesses in the event of future storms.”
Gov. Mike Parson called the award a “great example of federal, state, and local partners working together.”
“We have felt the impacts of devastating floods in Missouri, and we know how important a reliable infrastructure is to flood prevention and a thriving business community,” said Parson.
Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley for Missouri, along with 8th District Rep. Jason Smith, lauded the decision, calling the EDA’s investment critical and noting its impact should benefit local economy.
“A stormwater detention basin will play a vital role in protecting local businesses and the community from costly and dangerous flooding,” said Blunt. “I appreciate Secretary Ross and the Commerce Department’s support for this critical infrastructure investment, which will benefit jobs and the local economy.”
“This is tremendous news for West Plains,” said Hawley. “This investment in critical infrastructure is an investment in the community and all of the families that call it home.”
Smith, who visited West Plains as residents cleaned up devastated businesses, homes, and school and recreational facilities after the April 2017 flooding, emphasized the economic advantages the grant could bring.
“Infrastructure investments like these make clear to employers that our community is open for business — leading to more jobs, higher wages, and better opportunities for Southern Missouri families,” he said.
“After the flood in the spring of 2017, we began to work alongside local leaders to find solutions that would ensure future flooding did not cripple this community,” he added. “This grant, along with local funds, will assist in helping protect our area from future floods so that businesses can stay open and folks can get to work and their families in a safe manner.”
The project will fund the construction of the Burton Branch, South Fork of Howell Creek and Galloway Creek stormwater detention basins. This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the South Central Ozark Council of Governments.
EDA funds the South Central Ozark Council of Governments to help 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 Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.