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County Receives $1 Million Grant

Stone County Judge Stacey Avey received word Monday that the county has been approved for a $1 million grant to help construct an 18,000-square-foot building to be leased to Excel Boats for an expansion of the company’s manufacturing operation.

The grant, which is being made through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) was announced by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. The project is expected to create about 50 jobs and generate $650,000 in private investment.

“This new facility will help strengthen Stone County’s manufacturing base and generate jobs for residents across the community,” Ross said.

Avey has been working for more than a year with White River Planning and Development to enable the manufacturing expansion.

“This is something we’ve been working on for a long time and we’re very fortunate to have obtained this grant,” he said.

The building will be erected on county property adjacent to the current boat factory facility, which is located in the county owned building constructed for Blanchard Shirt Company decades ago. Excel Boats has operated at that location since 2009.

“The engineering is already done, so we may break ground in the next few months,” Avey added.

In addition to the EDA grant, the project is supported by a $194,462 grant received by the county from Delta Regional Authority to cover engineering services, and a $700,000 loan to Excel from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to finish out the interior of the building. Excel has committed $650,000 in private funds to the expansion.

EDA helps fund the White River Planning and Development District with the goal of bringing together the public and private sectors to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment, and create jobs.

From the March 21, 2018 issue.

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