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Little Rock Sees Sustainable Growth from Investments by Federal Partnership

Release Date: 11/19/2013
Contact Information: Joe Hubbard or Jennah Durant at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov

DALLAS – (Nov. 19, 2013) Today, senior officials from four major federal agencies visited Little Rock to promote sustainability and leverage support for investment projects in North Little Rock and Little Rock, Ark. They also gained additional knowledge and insight into how they can help the cities achieve their goals for sustainable growth.

“North Little Rock has been, and continues to be, a leader in sustainable development,” said Joe Smith, Mayor of North Little Rock. “Our partnerships with these valuable federal agencies have produced incredible results and thanks to their continued insight and support we have many success stories to share.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Transportation, and Delta Regional Authority officials and the mayors of Little Rock and North Little Rock toured the two Central Ark. cities as part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The tour was a part of a nationwide initiative to engage stakeholders and receive feedback on how sustainable communities’ efforts are progressing.

“Little Rock’s Main Street is the kind of exciting, sustainable revitalization that public-private investment can produce,” said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola. “We are proud that Main Street is becoming a leading example for other communities to follow and we will continue to encourage more sustainable development in Downtown Little Rock.”

The interagency effort helps communities nationwide improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment. The partnership provides communities with faster and more efficient access to federal programs and resources.

“These investments strengthen our ongoing efforts to support a healthy environment and strong economy in Little Rock and North Little Rock,” said Deputy EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “They have given folks more transportation options to get to school or a job, and housing options to care for their families. And they have attracted private sector investments that support businesses and boost the local economy.”

For example, EPA’s initial investment of $80,000 for Greening America’s Capitals program, used to develop designs for downtown Main Street, initiated other investments, such as $900,000 from Arkansas Department of Natural Resources for green infrastructure, $900,000 from Pulaski County for cleanup and redevelopment of vacant buildings, and $150,000 from the National Endowment of the Arts for an arts corridor. The coordinated public investments have already leveraged millions of dollars in private donations to Downtown Little Rock.

    HUD committed $16.8 million from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to help areas affected by high foreclosure rates. Area organizations used the funds at more than 500 area properties, demolished blighted homes, purchased foreclosed properties, rehabbed and built homes, and provided first-time homeownership opportunities to low- and moderate-income families.

    HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones said, “It’s a privilege to be here in Little Rock to see how Little Rock, North Little Rock and the State of Arkansas have embraced sustainability, creating jobs, leveraging private investment, increasing economic activity and improving educational opportunities in their neighborhoods. They’re a model for others to follow.”
      HUD also invested $2 million from Sustainable Communities Regional Planning funds to help Metroplan, the region’s metropolitan planning organization, develop a regional sustainability plan for Central Arkansas and align efforts on transportation, housing, development, the environment and human health. More than $2.6 million in Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grants from HUD were also presented to the East Arkansas Planning and Development District in Jonesboro to create “reNEW East Arkansas,” a plan that integrates jobs, transportation, housing, and economic development for 12 counties.
        “Through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, DOT, HUD, and EPA are connecting transportation, housing, and environmental projects to deliver big results,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy Beth Osborne. “The Obama Administration will continue to invest in sustainable transportation choices like the Arkansas River Trail System to keep cities vibrant and local economies growing.”

        DOT provided $1.5 million for a redesign of the Pike Street Roundabout, which improves safety and provides an efficient transportation solution to a maze of local roads. Additional DOT funding of $2.7 million will be used to construct portions of the Little Rock/North Little Rock Arkansas River Trail System, which features miles of riverside trails for bicycling, walking and running.

        The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership working to stimulate economic development in the Mississippi Delta. The agency works to improve life for the 10 million people who reside in the 252 Delta counties and parishes in parts of eight states.

        In 2009, EPA, HUD and DOT announced the interagency partnership to help its grantees succeed by providing technical assistance and tools, building capacity, and giving grantees better access to local networks and resources, while using the lessons learned to help future grantees. In addition, the partnership helps cities, suburbs, and rural areas use sustainable community strategies to generate economic growth and encourage redevelopment. With better transportation options, more housing choices, and a healthier environment, communities can attract new jobs and investment.

        More information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities: http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov

        More information on the Greening America’s Capitals project in Little Rock: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/greencapitals.htm#arkansas

        More about activities in EPA Region 6: http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region6.html

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