Northeast Texas hopes to apply for more than $100 million in grants under President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, including Northeast Texas Economic Development District (NETDD) with East Texas Council of Governments (ETCOG) and Ark-Tex Council of Governments (ATCOG), per a Sept. 30 meeting.
Projects targeted for the grants could include Sulphur Springs’ Thermo Mine property, Hopkins’ Northeast Texas Rural Rail Transportation District, and others, according to Ark-Tex Council of Governments executive director Chris Brown.
Through cooperation by 50-60 northeast Texas agencies, Brown said the group hopes to pull in all available federal money for Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County as well as the TexAmericas Center in Texarkana, and former mining properties in Titus, Morris, Camp, and Harrison counties.
According to Brown, the strength of the proposal by Northeast Texas comes from the scope of the area and its interconnectedness.
“They want big projects,” Brown told the council of governments. “We’ve got a 200-mile reach as far as our workforce… and 16,000 square miles that any investment will leverage.
Brown said rural Northeast Texas’s 1.1 million population that may benefit from the Build Back Better grants “is what is really going to make it.”
Atlanta Mayor Travis Ransom pointed out that strengthening infrastructure for as much of Northeast Texas as possible would have wide-reaching benefits.
“Some of the sites are massive job sites that a fair amount of folks that live somewhere, work somewhere else,” Ransom noted.
The preliminary deadline for the application is Oct. 19, 2021. Afterwards, those overseeing individual projects (such as NETEX or the Thermo Mine) will prepare individual applications, which are due February 2022. The federal government expects to make final decisions by September 2022, Brown said.
“When you increase the skillset of a part of our region, you’re increasing the workforce training of our community and living in Northeast Texas,” said TexAmericas director Scott Norton. “Everybody benefits: every household, every community, every square inch.”
By Taylor Nye