The Newport Economic Development Commission has announced that the City of Newport is the recipient of a grant from the 2020 CDBG-CV Application Fund delivered through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to create an Outdoor WiFi Accessibility Center.

This grant was a partnership between the Newport Economic Development Commission, the Jackson County Library, Downtown Revitalization and Improvement Volunteer Effort, Seeds of Faith Church, and the City of Newport. The grant was written and will be administered by White River Planning and Development District.

The grant will provide $165,765 to pave a lot on Walnut Street across from the Jackson County Library to create safe parking area and a small green space with trees and tables for use by citizens who need the internet but feel uncomfortable going into the library due to health concerns. The Outdoor WiFi Accessibility Center will allow local citizens to have access to high-speed wireless internet services.

The benefits of the Outdoor WiFi Accessibility Center cover several sectors of the local population. If the schools are required to return to virtual learning, this center will allow families a place for students to download schoolwork, or if the weather is nice to have an outdoor virtual classroom as a change of pace. Individuals needing to file paperwork for unemployment or check on their status can use the center as a place to input their information. Now, over 65 percent of the local jobs require online applications. The center will allow job seekers to complete those applications even if they do not have internet access at home. The outdoor nature of the space will allow for after-hours access to the internet, which is important to individuals who may be working but who are seeking to improve their job situation.

Construction of the Outdoor WiFi Accessibility Center will begin this fall and should be completed shortly after the start of the new school year. For questions or further information, contact the Newport Economic Development Commission at 870-523-1009 or at director@newportaredc.org.

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