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Liberty Co. awarded nearly $1.5 million for turning lane and paving service road

Gov. Rick Scott announces the grant for Liberty County along with several others for communities throughout the state at yesterday’s press conference. JOHNNY EUBANKS PHOTO

from Opportunity Florida

Governor Rick Scott announced Liberty County has been warded $1,448,831 from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund during a press conference in Jacksonville Tuesday morning.  The funds will be used for the construction of a turning lane on Hwy. 65 South at the intersection of U.S. Forest Service Road 103, and paving 1.5 miles of the service road to create access to more than 500 acres of property for economic development.

The application by the Liberty County Board of County Commissioners was selected from a pool of more than 225 requests that totaled more than $821 million.

Liberty County’s grant was one of nine projects statewide to be approved. Together, the grants awarded totaled $35 million.  Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, (DEO)  said each selected proposal has a strong return on investment and a commitment to improve the regional economy.”

These proposals were reviewed by DEO, Enterprise Florida (EFI) and chosen by Governor Scott based on their strong return on investment to the state and to meet the demand for a robust workforce or infrastructure needs, according to a news release from the governor’s office.  Return on investment was calculated to determine the best projects for the state and economic development in the regions.

Senator Bill Montford said he was glad to see funds coming to rural Florida.  “Rural Florida is in desperate need of economic development and growth,” Senator Montford said. “Not all areas of the state have recovered from the tough economic times our state has seen over the last decade and I’m glad to see that Governor Scott is dedicated to providing the necessary tools and resources to address those challenges.”

He continued, “I have also filed legislation this year that aims to provide more access and more capital for our rural areas. I’m looking forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the Senate and the House to provide a much-needed boost to our rural economies.”

Liberty County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Johnny Eubanks said the grant will be used to improve infrastructure that will help additional businesses to locate in the county creating more jobs.

Eubanks also said he wanted to thank the many parties that contributed to the success of the application.

“This grant is the result of a lot of people working together for the benefit of the county,” Eubanks said. “Thanks to the Board of County Commissioners and the Clerk of the Court for moving quickly to hold a special meeting to move the grant forward, thanks to Opportunity Florida for helping us with the proposal, and thanks to both Enterprise Florida and the Department of Economic Opportunity for the help they gave us during the process. Of course we also want to thank Governor Scott for selecting our proposal from the over 225 submitted.”

Richard Williams, Executive Director of Opportunity Florida congratulated Liberty County on the award. “For one of the smallest counties in the state to compete and win from among so many applications is a testament to the officials in Liberty County that worked together to make this happen,” Williams said. “Opportunity Florida is proud to have been able to provide technical assistance and we also appreciate the way DEO staff worked with us to make this possible.”

The Florida Jobs Growth Grant was created by the Florida Legislature and provides Governor Scott with an $85 million fund to help build the infrastructure Florida needs to help businesses expand and locate in the state. Both Sen. Bill Montford and Rep. Halsey Beshears supported the creation of the fund and provided support for the application.

Eubanks said the chamber will be working extremely hard to find companies willing to create jobs in Liberty County taking advantage of the infrastructure improvements funded by the grant. “This is an example of how elected officials and economic developers working together can make Liberty County a better place to worship, work, and play,” he said.

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