LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas will see a broader federal disaster response if the bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate becomes law.

Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas) and Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) introduced legislation on Wednesday to formalize the Economic Development Administration’s role in economic recovery after natural disasters. Their Office of Disaster Recovery and Resilience Act would create an entity to expedite the deployment of resources and improve service delivery to communities dealing with a disaster’s aftermath.

Recent events in the state have provided a lesson in the importance of economic recovery after a disaster, Boozman said.

“Arkansans are unfortunately very familiar with the devastation caused by natural disasters,” he said. “The EDA’s leadership is crucial to the recovery and resilience of communities during these challenging circumstances. Clearly defining the EDA’s role will help improve the federal response and long-term economic outcome. I look forward to working in a bipartisan way to advance this measure through Congress so it can be signed into law.”

The legislation is endorsed by the National Association of Development Organizations, the National Association of Counties, and the International Economic Development Council.

National Association of Development Organizations executive director Joe McKinney said the legislation would be important in various phases of disaster response.

“The creation of an Office of Disaster Recovery and Resilience within the U.S. Economic Development Administration would not only help strengthen communities’ disaster readiness planning efforts, but would also help enhance the impacts of EDA’s disaster mitigation investments,” he said. “This exciting legislation will help bolster the important role that EDA plays in supporting long-term community economic recovery.”

Boozman is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In that role, he participated in a June hearing on EDA where Little Rock Port Authority director Bryan Day testified about the agency’s impact. Day outlined in his testimony how infrastructure improvements made with EDA investments drew businesses to the port including Welspun, Amazon and TREX.