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December 10, 1999

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"We have to find a way to bring the benefits of the economy to the people in places who haven't been a part of this prosperity."

President Bill Clinton
Friday, December 10, 1999

Today, President Clinton visited Arkansas as part of his continuing effort to highlight the need for investment in the Delta region. The President spoke to the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce about the importance of trade and economic development to the long-term prosperity of the region. In West Memphis, the President underscored his commitment to revitalizing local economies in East Arkansas through public-private partnerships, job training, and long-term new investments. And at a high school in Earle, the President discussed the crucial role of education and computer skills in creating strong local economies.

Addressing the Challenge of Rural Development in East Arkansas. As a result of the longest peacetime economic expansion in American history, conditions in East Arkansas have improved in recent years. Nevertheless, much work needs to be done, such as raising incomes, lowering unemployment, and reducing infant mortality rates. To help meet the challenges facing East Arkansas, President Clinton announced:

  • Over $110 million in the President's FY 2001 budget will be targeted to assist the Delta region, including the creation of a new Delta Regional Authority to channel funding and resources to economically distressed counties throughout the Delta.

  • The President will direct 14 federal agencies to develop the Arkansas Delta Circuit Rider Program to provide targeted, coordinated assistance to Delta communities. This first-ever program will help Delta communities identify economic development needs and leverage private and public funding to meet those needs.

  • A $16 million pledge by local lenders to the Arkansas Rural Health Care Initiative, for loans to local health care providers, including hospitals, clinics, doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, and other providers.

  • A $1.2 million grant to create a 35,000 square foot mail-sorting facility. By financing the new facility, this grant from the Economic Development Administration will help create and preserve local jobs.

  • A new office for the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service and the Economic Development Administration to help East Arkansas businesses export more of their goods and services. The office will provide special assistance to small- and medium-sized businesses attempting to penetrate overseas markets.

  • A new partnership to train dislocated workers as truck drivers. A public-private partnership is expanding a truck driver training program into West Memphis, which will help bring jobs to the area while responding to the shortage of trained long-haul drivers.

  • MCI/WorldCom Marco Polo Foundation will offer free Internet training for all teacher trainers in the seven Delta states

  • The first-ever Delta Safe Schools Conference, sponsored by the Department of Education, will teach educators at the state and local levels how to keep classrooms and campuses safe and drug-free.

  • A Rural College Multi-Agency Technical Assistance Workshop to provide grant-writing and program application assistance to college administrators and help them obtain technical assistance from federal agencies.

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December 1999

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