Arkansas’s waterways “provide a substantial economic impact and are vital to our efforts to export Arkansas-made products to markets throughout the world,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. 

This is why Arkansas Waterways Commission’s Arkansas Port, Intermodal, and Waterway Development Grant Program works to benefit public ports by reinvesting the ad valorem taxes paid by barge lines on the value of the barges traversing Arkansas’s navigable waterways. 

The grants provide funds for public ports and intermodal authorities to make capital improvements and facilitate much needed dredging projects.

Three projects were recently awarded grant funding as follows:

• Helena Harbor received $287,800 for the Helena Harbor 2021 Port Development Project in preparations for container on barge operations by 2023.

• The Port of Yellow Bend received $72,274 for structural painting of the facility crane and building repairs.

• The Port of Crossett received $38,692 for liquid product tank cleaning and inspection.

“These grants will go a long way in making the necessary improvements to ensure trade continues in a timely and efficient manner,” Preston added.

This grant program increases Arkansas’s competitive advantage on the nation’s inland river system to entice increased waterborne commerce for the navigable rivers in Arkansas. The waterways are an economic driver for the state and water transportation is the most cost-effective, safe, and environmentally friendly mode of shipping bulk and oversized cargo.

“I’m delighted to see funds awarded to ports across the state,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “The Arkansas Port, Intermodal, and Waterway Development Grant Program plays an integral role in growing the economy and increases Arkansas’s competitive advantage in the global marketplace.”

“Since 2016, the Arkansas Port, Intermodal, and Waterway Development Grant Program has awarded over $5 million in grants to Arkansas ports, intermodal authorities and public entities,” said Arkansas Waterways Commission Director Cassandra Caldwell. “The commission is very pleased to see the funds from the ad valorem taxes collected on barge transportation being allocated to further develop Arkansas port infrastructure, encourage freight movement, and promote economic development along Arkansas’s commercially navigable waterways.”

The grant was established by Act 1483 of the 89th General Assembly. A copy of the grant rules and application can be obtained in the news section of the commission’s website,, or by calling (501) 682-2322.

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