Rep. Abraham announces grants for CLEDA, other state development projects

Jim Clinton, CLEDA

WASHINGTON D.C. (Rep. Ralph Abraham) - Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, announced on Thursday nearly $400,000 in grant funding from the US Department of Agriculture for education and workforce development projects across Northeast and Central Louisiana.

The USDA rural development grants will fund three projects that will benefit residents in 14 different parishes, 11 of which are in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District.

The Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA) in Alexandria will receive a $90,000 grant to help finance training and technical assistance for business development services in Central Louisiana. The grant is expected to help four small businesses by providing education, training and mentoring for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Residents in Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Rapides, Winn, Allen, Natchitoches, and Vernon Parishes will benefit from this grant.

"This rural business development grant gives Central Louisiana makers an opportunity to connect with one another and build a vibrant foundation for a prosperous region," said Jim Clinton, president and CEO of the CLEDA.

The Madison Parish Port will receive a $200,000 grant to help finance a rail spur adjacent to an existing rail line that services the port. The completion of this project will increase rail transportation at the industrial park. The project is expected to add 26 new jobs as the new infrastructure investment will attract new businesses and allow existing businesses to expand.

“Congressman Abraham has been very helpful to the port,” said Terry Murphy, the port’s executive director. “He’s been accessible and effective at working with all the ports in his district. This will allow one our largest employers, Complex Chemical, to expand by getting more raw materials in and shipping finished products out. It will create additional employment.”

The NOVA Workforce Institute of NELA will receive a $93,322 grant to help finance training and technical assistance for business development services in Northeast Louisiana and to help meet labor demands for new and emerging small businesses. The grant is expected to assist 11 small businesses and create 60 new jobs across East Carroll, West Carroll, Madison, Morehouse and Richland Parishes.

"We look forward to assisting the business and industry workforce needs of the Northeast Louisiana Delta Region,” said NOVA Executive Director Paul West. “ NOVA's Career Readiness (Essential Skills) will be a key component as we equip individuals with the skills necessary to meet these workforce needs, thereby providing opportunities for financial self-sufficiency. We appreciate Congressman Abraham's support of NOVA and these efforts, and we would like to thank Dr. Carrie Castille and the USDA Rural Development for this great opportunity to partner."

“Thanks to tax reform and our efforts in Congress to remove barriers to job creation, our economy is booming and hiring is on the rise,” Dr. Abraham said. “These grants will help further stimulate workforce growth, job training and small business development in rural Louisiana, and I appreciate Sec. Sonny Perdue and the USDA for awarding these funds.”