West Memphis wants BUILD grant

West Memphis wants BUILD grant

Funds would help continue industrial, port projects

news@theeveningtimes.com

The $9.75 million West Memphis TIGER IV grant has run its course. City Economic Development Director Phillip Sorrell said the 18-month construction project at the International Rail Port Logistics Park was all done but the paperwork, and asked city council for $12,500 to apply for another grant to continue developing the area.

The Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant application fee was planned to improve trucking access to the city’s new southern industrial Mega-Site. They hoped for a $1 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant which would serve to fund the improvement and expansion of South Loop road to accommodate trucking around the city and into the new logistics park. We are about 30 days away from closing out the TIGER grant,” said Sorrell. “It’s been under construction for 18 months and under planning for many, many years. We are happy to bring that project to conclusion, but we just can’t stop where we are, especially if we want to get these projects ready for industrial prospects. We have to stay ahead of the game.

It’s a very competitive environment out there for industrial recruitment right now.”

The TIGER grant served to develop the city’s rail transfer facility on the south side adjacent to its river port. West Memphis contracted with Bates to operate the freight transfer facility. The city and Bates will be joined by a third applicant, American Consoli- dated Barge Line which holds 1,000 acres in the area with rail right of way.

The two private stakeholders will share the total $37,500 BUILD grant application fee.

“It’s good to have private investment dollars going in with us to submit the application,” said Sorrell.

The director asked for city council permission to apply for the funding to continue improving the infrastructure and developing South Loop.

“We are applying for a planning and design grant to pick off the infrastructure improvement made at our southern site,” said Sorrell. “We’ve done a great job of building railroad infra-structure, and we need to continue to build upon that. This will have a design element to help us take care of environmental, right of way, and property acquisition. A second component will be a feasibility study and market analysis.

We are trying to tie the two together under one grant.

Sorrell indicated South Loop construction could commence in 2020 if the grant was awarded and other funding components came to fruition. He lauded the private sector interest in the Build grant.

City Council authorized the application expense and set the Economic Development Department to work with short order with a application deadline looming.

“It is due July 19, so we have very little time left,”

said Sorrell.

By John Rech

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