Ports & Terminals

Little Rock Port Gets FEMA Security Grant

The Little Rock (Ark.) Port Authority announced February 7 that it was awarded a $570,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency to upgrade its security camera system throughout the growing port area. These funds will allow the port to improve safety for the industry partners and the 7,000 individuals who work at one of the businesses located at the port.

Since the development of its 2015 strategic plan, the Little Rock Port Authority team has been aggressively pursuing grants, specifically the highly competitive federal grants. The port has received nearly $10 million in state and federal grants.

“City, county, state and federal money have all gone into building the Port of Little Rock,” said Bryan Day, executive director of the Little Rock Port Authority, “and we hope Congress will continue to invest heavily in port and rail infrastructure spending so that we can continue to add value to Central Arkansas. The return on the public’s investment is great—a 2020 study on the five-year impact of spending in the port estimated an overall economic impact of $1 billion, with a $462 million impact on GDP, $269 million on labor incomes and a $367 million impact on taxes.”

In 2016, the port was awarded $6.2 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant fund, which helped fund infrastructure investments at the Slackwater Harbor and increased rail capacity. Over the past 18 months, the port also has benefited from grants from the Economic Development Administration and the Delta Regional Authority. These grants have been received in partnership with the city of Little Rock and Pulaski County and used to construct and improve roadways and railroad infrastructure to support new and existing industry.

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At the end of 2021, the port received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) Grant. The funds will help pay to replace 15 unsafe deadman anchors with steel monopile dolphin moorings and install 32 additional dolphins. The  grant was funded as a part of the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act that provided $41.4 million to be directed by the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2021 to projects at “Small Ports and Terminals” from the larger Port Infrastructure Development Program.

“The typical competitive Department of Transportation grant requires submission of a very complicated benefit/cost analysis, which is hard for smaller entities to perform, but the ‘Small Ports and Terminals’ allocation did not,” said Marsha Guffey, Grants and Special Projects Manager for the port. “Although we have routinely performed the benefit/cost analyses for our applications, not every port has the in-house capability to do one, adding to the cost of preparing the application.”