Florida Department of Economic Opportunity gets resident input for disaster grant uses

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MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — In Mexico Beach and all over the Panhandle, residents are making their voices heard when it comes to how disaster funding should be spent in their communities.

Over the last couple of weeks, Department of Economic Opportunity representatives have been touring Panhandle communities impacted by Hurricane Michael, visiting Mexico Beach on Wednesday morning.

“We’re going to the Michael-impacted areas to talk with the communities to see what information they feel is most important to them to include in our state action plan,” said Joseph Oglesby, DEO Business and Economic Recovery Bureau Chief.

That state action plan is being developed over the next several months by the DEO, who will be presenting it to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who is providing the grant funding. That plan will act as a blueprint for how hundreds of millions of dollars of federal disaster funding will be spent in communities like Mexico Beach.

“What we’ll do is we’ll take all the information that we receive, we’ll compile it into that state action plan telling the story to HUD of what the community wants to see,” said Oglesby.

Mexico Beach City Administrator, Mario Gisbert, said while it’s a great opportunity for communities to make their voices heard, it only works if residents actually speak up.

“These workshops are done so that every individual can be heard and make a difference within the strategy that is put out there,” said Gisbert.

For residents that are not able to attend the meetings, the DEO is hosting a webinar for residents to get the information remotely. For more information on how to register and stay informed on the strategic action plan, click here.

“You have to get out there,” said Gisbert. “You have to get involved if you want to make a difference.”

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