PONTOTOC • The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration announced on Tuesday that it was awarding $400,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funds to Three Rivers Planning and Development District in Pontotoc.

The federal funds are a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which are set to help businesses in Northeast Mississippi recover from the negative economic impacts of the novel coronavirus.

Randy Kelley, the executive director of Three Rivers, told the Daily Journal in a telephone interview that the economic development district was grateful for the funds, and they plan to use the dollars to hire a new recovery coordinator, who will help develop a new regional development plan and partner with different businesses and economic development leaders across the region.

“We are contracting with every economic development agency in our region to be our eyes, ears and feet on the ground to see what the business needs are in our region,” Kelley said.

Kelley said the contracts with the economic development agencies will be for two years and said the plan for recovering from the virus was “unique.”

The announcement drew praise from several of the state’s federal and state elected officials. Gov. Tate Reeves in a statement said that he was grateful to the state’s federal partners and their support during this time.

“This grant to the Three Rivers Planning & Development District will help boost our recovery efforts for Northeast Mississippi and our state as a whole,” Reeves said. “Investing in our economic development, we will rebuild and emerge stronger than ever.”

Both of Mississippi’s Republican U.S. Senators, Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, said that the dollars will be used as a way to supplement the state’s economic recovery and will likely make the economy stronger than it was before the pandemic.

“Mississippi’s communities have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak,” Wicker said. “This emergency supplemental funding for the Three Rivers Planning and Development District will give northeast Mississippi a much-needed boost as it prepares for recovery and future economic growth.”

Hyde-Smith said that the funds are a tool that Three Rivers can use to support the area “actively recover from the pandemic and get more people to work.”

Three Rivers was eligible to receive the funds because it is an EDA-designated Economic Development District. The funds the organization received are part of $1.5 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds that are being allocated to different economic development programs around the nation.

taylor.vance@journalinc.com

Twitter: @taylor_vance28

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