A $1.7 million grant will expand the Port of Epes Industrial Park in Livingston in West Alabama.
The grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to the University of West Alabama will be matched with $540,000 in local funds. It’s expected to create 885 jobs and generate $175 million in private investment, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“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,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
The company Ross referred to was Maryland-based Enviva, which in 2019 announced it would build a $175 million wood pellet production plant at the industrial park. Opportunity Zone projects are projects that spur economic development in economically distressed communities around the country. Alabama has 158 Opportunity Zones.
Sen. Richard Shelby praised the new project.
“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,” he 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.”