TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WMBB) — Governor Ron DeSantis announced more than $5.4 million in funding for infrastructure projects in 15 rural communities in Northwest Florida that were affected by Hurricane Michael.
In 2019, the Florida Legislature created a specific appropriation for the Rural Infrastructure Fund (RIF) (Section 288.0655(6), Florida Statutes) for projects in Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties. These funds were designated to help communities restore their economies after the impacts of Hurricane Michael, officials wrote in a news release.
“Hurricane Michael left devastating impacts throughout Northwest Florida and communities are still trying to rebuild,” DeSantis said. “I appreciate the Florida Legislature’s quick and creative utilization of the Rural Infrastructure Fund to help Northwest Florida rural communities recover and focus on rebuilding and developing more resilient infrastructure to move their local economies forward.”
Administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the RIF provides funding to local governments for infrastructure projects in rural communities to encourage job creation and business investment and to strengthen and diversify rural economies.
The rural communities receiving funds include:
- City of Bonifay – ($277,000)to conduct a study that will identify options to reduce or prevent flooding in the downtown area, identify any changes needed to the current drainage system and find the best location to place a drainage pond, should it be necessary. Eliminating flooding in the downtown area will assist in retaining and attracting new businesses. ($446,163) to reconstruct public parking facilities that provide access to the city’s downtown commercial district. Downtown Bonifay is currently in the process of a commercial revitalization to eliminate blight and increase economic activity.
- City of Bristol – ($275,000) to conduct a study that includes an environmental assessment and master site plan, property and building assessments and beautification plans for a downtown commercial revitalization corridor.
- City of Chattahoochee – ($82,650) to develop a master site plan for the River Landing RV Park, which was damaged during Hurricane Michael. The funds will be used for a utility layout, stormwater design, environmental assessments, land surveys and plans for construction bids.
- City of Chipley – ($276,000) to conduct a feasibility study that will determine the most suitable location and cost associated with developing a new solar plant to improve the city’s ability to attract new business.
- City of Marianna – ($300,000)to conduct a study of the existing connectivity framework and complete a preliminary design that will improve traffic and pedestrian mobility between its multiple business corridors.
- City of Quincy – ($297,800) to complete a feasibility study and an environmental survey necessary to finalize a plan for attracting new businesses to the Quincy Joe Adams Commerce Park. In addition, funding will help continue the City of Quincy’s “Opportunity for All” strategic economic development plan that encompasses a holistic approach to economic development planning and workforce development for new and existing businesses.
- Gadsden County – ($20,000) to improve resiliency and enhance economic development by performing a Gadsden road inventory project to assist the county with identifying, classifying, mapping and prioritizing needed improvements to publicly-owned unpaved roads and bridges throughout the county.
- Jackson County – ($180,000) to provide designs, surveying, construction and construction management services for paving Pooser Road that will create further economic development.($1,856,410.80) to develop a segment of a telecommunications Open Application Network in Marianna and Sneads. This broadband segment will link the network operator’s core network to the local network plant. This will stimulate business development and job creation by providing commercial access to the fiber network. The funds will be used for architectural and engineering services, an environmental assessment, permitting, construction, necessary software and equipment to make the network functional.
- Liberty County – ($290,000) to conduct studies that will assist in determining the necessary infrastructure and best location for an industrial park development to attract businesses to the community. Project activities include a preliminary engineering report, wetlands and archaeological review and site layout of the industrial park.
- Town of Alford – ($285,500) to conduct a preliminary engineering report, site layout, environmental analysis, Florida Master Site file review and identify permitting needs to connect to the City of Marianna’s wastewater treatment plant for the development of a municipal sanitary sewage service.
- Town of Altha – ($90,000) to study the efficiency and environmental impact of the town’s water system, as well as explore alternatives for improving the system to potentially attract more commerce.
- Town of Campbellton – ($70,000) to complete a redevelopment plan for Downtown Campbellton that will invite entrepreneurship and investment opportunities to the area.
- Town of Grand Ridge – ($117,000) to assist with the extension of sewer service to a retail development at the I-10 interchange at State Road 69.
- Town of Sneads – ($282,000) to conduct a feasibility study for the extension of water and sewer services to the I-10 interchange at County Road 286, which will include a preliminary engineering design, projected costs, operating impacts, environmental analysis and review of the master site file and permitting requirements.
- Washington County – ($300,000) to provide preliminary engineering services for sewer and water project sites identified in the county’s Strategic Economic Development Plan.