The Arkansas Economic Development Institute (AEDI) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has received a $320,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to conduct a Land & Resiliency Initiative for the Arkansas-Louisiana Multi-modal Economic Corridor (ArkLaMEC). The project will be a joint effort of AEDI and the Office of Innovation and Economic Development at Louisiana Tech University (OIED).
The initiative will identify developable land in the ArkLaMEC focusing efforts on land within close proximity of major highways, river ports, and rail lines. AEDI will use its Geographic Information Systems Laboratory to document a radial analysis of the developable land meeting the specific criteria.
“Both states have certified sites for development within the ArkLaMEC but that is but a fraction of land that is within 5 miles or less of access to highways, rail, and river ports,” Executive Director of AEDI James Youngquist said. “The radial analysis will allow all potential sites with ownership information to be available for review; something that has not been readily available in the past.”
Secondly, the initiative will develop a disaster preparedness and recovery strategy for the region. Both AEDI and OIED will work with local officials, business and industry representatives, first responders, and other officials to document flood and tornadic experiences and develop “next time” strategies for Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Desha, and Drew counties in Arkansas; and, East Carroll, Madison, Morehouse, Richland, and West Carroll parishes in Louisiana.
“The ArkLaMEC region experienced a break in its economic supply chain, in some areas for over 45 days as a result of floods and tornadoes from late 2015 into the early spring of 2016,” Youngquist said. “This effort will enable AEDI and OIED to help local leaders identify strategies to prepare and respond the next round of disasters, which we know in this part of the country, could happen at any time.”