Port Of Epes On Tenn-Tom Waterway Receives $1.7 Million Grant
The U.S. Department of Commerce, through its Economic Development Administration (EDA), has awarded a $1.7 million grant to the University of West Alabama, located in Livingston, Ala., to boost barge access at the Port of Epes Industrial Park, near the southernmost point on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.
“The Trump administration is committed to helping communities in Alabama and across the nation grow through strategic investment,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said. “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 capitalize on the project’s Opportunity Zone designation.”
The grant, which targets a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $540,000 in local support and is expected to create 85 jobs and generate $175 million in private investment.
Those jobs and the private investment refer to a wood pellet production plant Enviva Partners plans to develop in Sumter County. The project, announced a year ago, would export wood pellets for use in power production. Enviva, the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, received permitting necessary to construct the facility in December 2019. Enviva currently has operations in northeast Mississippi; in Lucedale, Miss., near the coast; and in Cottondale, Fla. The company is also building an export terminal in Pascagoula, Miss.
“Already, the Opportunity Zones across our state are helping boost the chance for economic prosperity, and this $1.7 million investment in Livingston, Ala., certainly adds to that effort,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “I am proud that the Trump administration continues following through on their commitment to grow opportunities across our state and the nation. This is a welcome investment, and I am grateful to President Trump and Secretary Ross for their constant support for Alabama.”
“This $1.7 million EDA grant for the Port of Epes infrastructure project will improve barge access and increase the capacity of the industrial park,” U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said. “The funding will help create jobs and fuel the local economy, encouraging and enabling long-term economic benefits to west Alabama. I am pleased to have worked with the administration to support this project and look forward to its completion.”
“I am so excited that the Port of Epes in Livingston in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District has been granted the funding necessary to promote economic opportunity for our workers and families in the Black Belt,” said U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, who represents the area. “There is nothing more important to me than increasing opportunity in my district. That is why I have fought so hard to make Alabama’s Opportunity Zone program work for areas like the Black Belt, where communities will most benefit from investments and job development.”
Mitch Mays, administrator of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, said he’s excited to see the project get underway, both for the port and Enviva and for business development across the region.
“We’re very pleased with how this is going to improve their access to the waterway,” Mays said. “We also think this is a very good prospect for encouraging more timber-related projects to locate on the Tenn-Tom.”