Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a $28 million investment for Northwest Florida on Thursday, one year after Hurricane Michael made landfall as a powerful Category 5 hurricane. The governor is awarding nearly $3 million to Panama City through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund and requesting $25 million from the Florida Legislature to fund the Hurricane Michael State Recovery Grant Program for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
“On my first full day in office I came to Northwest Florida and pledged my administration’s full support as we recover and rebuild,” said DeSantis in a written statement. “Today, I’m here to let the people of this community know that our commitment remains as strong as ever. This $28 million investment will help Northwest Florida come back stronger than before, and I look forward to continuing to work with our federal and legislative partners to keep critical funding coming.”
DeSantis is requesting the Florida Legislature to once again fund the Hurricane Michael State Recovery Grant Program. The program, run by the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), can be used for projects that support hurricane repair and recovery related to Hurricane Michael. To reach $25 million for the program, the governor proposes using the $23 million in interest earned from the Triumph Gulf Coast Trust Fund and $2 million from General Revenue.
“We knew during the legislative session that the Panhandle would need a lifeline while the Legislature was not assembled,” said FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz. “I want to thank our legislative partners for having the foresight to create such a program. This additional funding will help meet the needs of long-term recovery by covering segments that are normally forgotten, including revenue loss and operating deficits.”
The Hurricane Michael State Recovery Grant Program allows applicants, including local governments, county governments, school boards and charter schools to submit proposals for activities including:
Local or county revenue loss;
Local or county operating deficits;
Infrastructure (building, road, bridge, etc.) repair and/or replacement;
Beach renourishment/recreational facilities; and
Funding for the current fiscal year is still available through the program. Proposals are still being accepted through Tuesday, Oct. 15. Proposals must be emailed to the Division at FDEM.StateGrant@em.myflorida.com no later than 5 p.m. on that day.
Additionally, the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund award for $2.86 million will help the Panama City community promote development, support job creation and workforce retention within an area that was adversely impacted by Hurricane Michael. The award will fund the construction of two new connecting roads and associated underground utilities to serve future housing and apartment developments in Panama City.
“Governor DeSantis is utilizing every available resource to help Florida communities recover after disasters,” said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Executive Director Ken Lawson. “This Florida Job Growth Grant Fund award, together with ongoing efforts, will continue to move the recovery needle for the Florida Panhandle community. We continue to seek additional opportunities to assist as we wait on federal funding guidance for long-term recovery efforts.”
The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund is an economic development program designed to promote public infrastructure and workforce training across the state. Proposals are reviewed by DEO and Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) and chosen by the Governor to meet the demand for workforce or infrastructure needs in the community they are awarded to.
In 2019-20, $40 million in awards is available for projects that focus on rapidly developing a highly skilled workforce and on infrastructure initiatives that attract businesses, create jobs and promote economic growth. DEO and EFI are currently accepting proposals.