State officials and beneficiaries marked 40 years of statewide government investment through the Community Development Block Grant on Monday. The federal program uses funds to improve conditions and opportunities for people with low and moderate incomes.
The state also has discretion over some funds and has spent over $700 million on economic development, museums, and social services like shelters. Raymond Chung works with an edamame company that built a processing facility in the northwest Arkansas town of Mulberry. He praised the state’s capacity to spur development.
“I think everything was done in about six months, pretty much from start to finish, to the funding to the actual completion of the plant. I really can’t think of any other state in the country where things would have happened so efficiently and smoothly,” said Chung.
Chung said American Vegetable Soybean and Edamame invested nearly $5 million while the state contributed a nearly $1 million loan.
Gary Baxter the mayor of Mulberry expressed appreciation to Governor Mike Beebe for the program’s role in bringing an edamame processing facility.
“Governor I remember when we first talked about this you said you’d be one of the few governors that could say that we’re actually bringing jobs from China to Arkansas to produce a product to send back to China and that’s a reality” said Baxter.
Beebe praised the program, arguing it’s an example of tax dollars being responsibly used by government to bring growth and development. Officials also spoke about grants for a museum in McGehee about Japanese-Americans interned in camps during World War II and the expansion of a shelter in northeast Arkansas.