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Sweet Potato Storage & Processing Facility
The Walton Family Foundation, through the Delta Bridge Project’s Phillips County Strategic Community Plan, provided a $400,000 grant for the sweet potato storage and processing facility. “I applaud the Walton Family Foundation Board for its support of this innovative plan to help bring economic stability to the Delta,” U. S. Senator Blanche Lincoln said.
The Delta Bridge Project is a community development initiative for Phillips County that worked with residents to create a strategic community plan for Phillips County. The sweet potato storage and distribution facility is listed as an economic development priority in the Phillips County Strategic Community Plan. Dr. Steven Murray, Chancellor of Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, serves as the chairman of the Phillips County Strategic Community Plan Steering Committee. “Those of us who engaged in the Delta Bridge planning process dreamed big, and it is exciting to see those dreams begin to turn into a reality. I am convinced that we will transform our region by building on our strengths, not the least of which are the land and our ability to make it produce what we need.”
Applications are being processed through the U.S. Economic Development Administration for $500,000 and USDA-Rural Development for $200,000 for the project, and the funding is committed.
“The sweet potato storage and processing facility will allow local farmers to remain in the homes they own and plant more crop acres on the land they own, which will stimulate the local economy. I am pleased to have worked with Arkansas Delta Produced Marketing LLC to secure funding for the facility because I believe it is an excellent example of the positive things happening in the Delta region.” Senator Pryor said “I want to thank the Walton Foundation for their grant which will be combined with federal grants to make this project a reality. This is great news for eastern Arkansas and Arkansas farmers”.
The storage facility, providing 112,000 bushels of sweet potatoes in its first phase, will (i) allow for diversification of agricultural production activities into a higher yielding crop, (ii) increase the number of farmers involved in sweet potato farming and sweet potato acreage in production, (iii) create a new industry in Phillips County that could lead to processing and other value-added agricultural activities, and (iv) provide a source of raw material for the Fort Smith Arkansas based Gerber Plant.