This week, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., announced her support for 15 community priority projects for consideration by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee in the upcoming fiscal year (FY23) budget.
Castor is advocating for 15 Tampa Bay area projects based upon community support and pressing local needs – from skilled trades training to cancer screenings to initiatives to cut costs for neighbors and nonprofits. In FY22, Castor secured nearly $10 million in funding for community priorities.
“I received over 50 requests from partners throughout Florida’s 14th Congressional District to tackle the rising cost of living, educate the next generation, and create good-paying jobs. While it was difficult to narrow the selection to 15 projects, I am confident that these investments will lift our community for years to come. The entire Tampa/Hillsborough district is represented in these funding requests,” she said.
“The Tampa Bay area is a resilient community, but people truly need ways to put money in their pockets and better afford the cost of living. From workforce development initiatives for low-income individuals to initiatives that engage Hillsborough County students in the arts and high-skilled trades training, we are building up the workforce of tomorrow so that we can rebuild our infrastructure, bolster our economy and provide Tampa residents an income you can raise a family on,” Castor added.
“Tampa is the proud home of some of the best research and medical professionals in the world, and through projects at Moffitt, Lions Eye Institute and University of South Florida, we can improve health outcomes for Floridians and individuals across the globe, work to better diagnose and treat diseases, and ultimately save lives,” she continued. “Improving the safety of our community is front of mind for myself and other local leaders, and through priorities submitted by HART and Hillsborough County, we are responding to requests across the Tampa area to take direct action to provide safe, affordable housing and ensure Floridians and visitors get where they need to go while using our growing public transit system.
“Florida is on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and local neighborhoods like Palmetto Beach near Ybor City needs help to afford protection against the brunt of rising sea levels. There are also exciting opportunities to move to cleaner sources of energy, including solar, that would lower costs for Feeding Tampa Bay so it can focus on serving neighbors who are food insecure,” Castor said.
“The Tampa community is blessed with volunteers and organizations who are working to creatively and compassionately solve problems, and I am proud to partner with them and advocate for these 15 Tampa-area priorities in Washington as Tampa’s voice in the Congress,” she said in conclusion. “In the weeks ahead, the House Appropriations Committee will review the submissions of all projects from House members – I am committed to advocating for these projects until they are completed.”
While these 15 projects have been submitted to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration, this does not guarantee funding for the project. The next step is for the House Appropriations Committee to weigh these requests alongside other member submissions before ultimately selecting a limited number of projects to include in its FY 2023 funding bill. These bills must then be approved by the House Appropriations Committee, the full House, and ultimately through conference negotiations with the Senate before it is signed into law. This process will likely take months, with the earliest final consideration of bills taking place in late fall.
Listed below are the fifteen community priority projects Castor has submitted for consideration to the House Appropriations Committee. Projects are listed in alphabetical order:
· African American Arts and Cultural Center – Hillsborough County
· This project would provide funding for professional services and pre-construction activities for the new African American Arts and Cultural Center in West Tampa—a multidisciplinary space for arts experiences, educational enhancement, and community engagement that will further economic development in the area.
· Requested amount: $1,000,000
“The African American Arts and Cultural Center will serve as a unique space in the county where the history and the stories of African American communities are honored by way of coming to life through the arts. It is imperative that we continue to celebrate and cherish the diversity in our County and offer new artists an opportunity to share their work with the world. An investment in the African American Arts and Cultural Center is an investment in the collective future of Hillsborough County. We appreciate the support from Congresswoman Kathy Castor,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Gwen Myers.
Palmetto Beach – Bermuda Boulevard Seawall Improvements – City of Tampa
This project would stabilize and improve the existing Palmetto Beach/Bermuda Boulevard seawall along McKay Bay to reduce risk to the surrounding working class community, providing a long-term solution to reduce property damage and potential loss of life from flooding in the area.
· Requested amount: $3,000,000
“In the future, our quality of life will depend on steps we take to make Tampa resilient today. These projects are an important investment in making our infrastructure sustainable. By reducing our carbon footprint and mitigating the impacts of rising sea levels, we will make our city a better place for future generations. I appreciate Congresswoman Castor’s hard work to deliver funding for projects like these to Tampa,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.
Building Tampa’s Tomorrow-Workforce Development Initiative –Hillsborough County Public Schools
· This project would train students in a variety of medical and building construction professions to create a critical career pipeline to the highest demand fields within Hillsborough County and provide opportunities for underrepresented youth to access high-skilled trade careers.
· Requested amount: $2,300,000
“We are grateful for these additional resources as it will drive the work to accelerate our students into the 21st-century workforce. District and school leaders are creating robust, cutting-edge programs that will prepare students with the necessary skills to obtain careers right here in the Bay area. Through these unique academies, our students will gain a competitive edge after graduation and become the workforce for Tampa’s Tomorrow,” said Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Addison Davis.
Community Arts Education Initiative – Hillsborough County Public Schools
· This project would develop a high-quality arts education program for students in underserved and struggling communities, enhance the student educational experience, and introduce students to potential career paths in the arts.
· Requested amount: $1,986,353
“The funds awarded through this grant will elevate the educational experiences for learners in our Transformation Network schools. By providing these innovative opportunities, we are able to lift the cultural quality of life for students and open additional pathways for them as we develop a comprehensive arts education program with our community partners at the Straz Performing Arts Center and the Tampa Museum of Art,” said Davis.
Counseling and Wellness Centre – Centre for Women, Inc.
· This project would expand behavioral health services and programming in the community and train the next cohort of mental health providers in the Tampa Bay area, building on existing relationships with local colleges and universities.
· Requested amount: $1,205,394
“For 45 years, the Centre for Women has been a beacon of hope for people dealing with everyday mental wellness issues. The pandemic has been an accelerator for anxiety, depression, divorce, domestic violence, grief, and relationship challenges,” said Ann Madsen, Executive Director, the Centre for Women. “The need for our services has skyrocketed. Our licensed therapists provide accessible and affordable counseling to prevent situations from becoming a crisis. Rep. Castor’s support will help us open this resource for those who are uninsured, under-insured, and/or face a racial or ethnic disparity that limits their access to care. The counseling center will also serve as a learning environment for students who are training to be mental health professionals.”
Feeding Tampa Bay Solar/Wind Energy Efficiency Program – Feeding America Tampa Bay, Incorporated
· This project would enhance energy efficiency and achieve sustainability for a new cold storage facility at an organization that services more than one million Floridians facing food insecurity, helping to save money and save food in our area.
· Requested amount: $2,258,992
“Support for solving food insecurity among the residents of Tampa Bay is a critical issue to the wellbeing of our community. Every year, Feeding Tampa Bay recovers and delivers over 100 million pounds of food – a significant recycling effort that nourishes our residents and reduces our carbon footprint. As we build a new facility for the future, we are grateful Congresswoman Kathy Castor is supporting us to provide cost-saving and renewable solar and wind technology. Congresswoman Castor’s fierce advocacy for our work has taken many forms over the years and this is just one more great example,” said Thomas Mantz, President/CEO, Feeding Tampa Bay.
Functional Brain Imaging Core Research Center to Advance Prevention and Treatment of Brain Disease – University of South Florida
· This project would bring the first functional MRI (fMRI) machine with full research capabilities to the Tampa Bay metro area, benefiting patients with clinical trials and advancing brain science research opportunities.
· Requested amount: $2,000,000
“A key part of the University of South Florida’s mission is to lead cutting-edge research that improves the quality of life for members of our community and beyond,” USF President Rhea Law said. “We are deeply grateful to Rep. Castor for requesting funding to support a new, game-changing brain imaging research center that would fill a critical need in Tampa Bay, and help patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other serious diseases. This project would also provide significant economic benefit to our region by paving the way for USF to attract new research dollars, recruit world-class scientists and create high-skilled jobs.”
HART Bus Stops Improvements Project – Hillsborough Transit Authority
· This project would make improvements to approximately 285 bus stops in Hillsborough County to address equity, safety, and accessibility issues and bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
· Requested amount: $5,000,000
“HART would like to thank U.S. Representative Kathy Castor for her continued advocacy for transportation alternatives. This CPF funding request would be a substantial investment in our transportation infrastructure. Bus stop improvements enhance the customer experience and aids in reducing the barrier to entry for our customers,” said Adelee Marie Le Grand, CEO, HART.
Housing and Neighborhood Assessment Project – Hillsborough County
· This project would improve the quality of life, increase economic opportunities, and increase property values for over 26,000 residents in Progress Village and Palm River that are faced with the safety hazards of living in densely populated areas that are dependent on septic.
· Requested amount: $1,920,000
“We are grateful for the continued prioritization Congresswoman Kathy Castor has shown regarding water quality and our environment as a whole. The modernization of these sewer lines for the communities of Progress Village and Palm River will undoubtedly increase economic and property values, thereby improving the overall quality of life for these residents,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Gwen Myers.
LatinTech Accelerator – Tampa Bay Wave, Inc.
· This project would remove barriers for some of the most under-represented entrepreneurs, filling a critical gap in Tampa’s local startup ecosystem, and making a lasting impact on the regional economy.
· Requested amount: $500,000
“Tampa Bay Wave is grateful for Congresswoman Castor’s ongoing support of initiatives like our LatinTech Accelerator project that foster inclusive innovation-driven economic growth and high-wage job creation in our region. The LatinTech Accelerator will fill a critical gap in our local startup ecosystem by helping a demographically important but under-represented segment of tech entrepreneurs in the Tampa Bay region and across the U.S. Given Tampa Bay Wave’s long history of promoting diversity and equity in our region’s tech startup ecosystem, we know the funding requested by Rep Castor can help us make a meaningful difference in the growth and success of Latin-owned startups – including those in strategically important industries such as cybersecurity, fintech, healthtech, edtech, climate tech, and more,” said Linda Olson, President/CEO, Tampa Bay Wave.
Mobile Lung Cancer Screening Program – H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute
· This project would increase lung cancer screening rates among underserved and disadvantaged populations in Tampa through a fully mobile, electric lung cancer screening vehicle.
· Requested amount: $2,350,000
“Moffitt Cancer Center greatly appreciates Congresswoman Castor’s support for our effort to establish a mobile lung cancer screening program for communities in Tampa Bay and beyond. Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death, and greater access to screening can save lives by detecting lung cancers at earlier and more curative stages. The funding requested by Rep. Castor could help Moffitt greatly improve lung cancer outcomes in our community, especially among traditionally under-served populations who face heightened barriers to health care,” said Jhanelle Gray, MD, Chair, Thoracic Oncology Program, Moffitt Cancer Center.
Pre-Apprenticeship Training and Hiring Program (P.A.T.H.) – Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, Inc.
· This project would address the persistent skills gap in the Tampa Bay area through partnerships with local stakeholders to provide opportunities for underrepresented youth to access high-skilled trade careers and diversify the talent pipeline.
· Requested amount: $1,862,625
“As our economy continues to grow and expand, it is important to create pathways to employment for underrepresented residents. CDC of Tampa is excited to be able to partner and provide options for residents to learn a trade or obtain a certification, to begin the journey to economic self-sufficiency,” said Ernest M. Coney Jr., MPH, President & CEO, Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, Inc.
Skills Center Collaborative – Skills Center, Inc.
· This project would help with the completion of an opportunity center for low-income youth, with the goals of on-time grade promotion, high school graduation, and preparation for life after high school for every program participant.
· Requested amount: $3,000,000
“From the moment a student walks through our doors, they will begin to reimagine their future. We thank Rep. Castor for supporting our project,” said Celeste Roberts, CEO, The Skills Center. “The Skills Center Collaborative will be a place where every young person has the opportunity succeed; a place where essential skills are developed, positive relationships are grown and solutions to systemic challenges facing our youth are addressed.”
Vision Health and Research Center – Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research Foundation
· The project would create a state-of-the-art treatment and research facility that will provide comprehensive, streamlined vision care and services, and research under one roof, building on an existing relationship with University of South Florida physicians.
· Requested amount: $2,284,047
“We are honored to be considered for this funding opportunity,” said Jason K. Woody, President and CEO of the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research. “The Vision Health Center will be an important medical resource in our community that will serve those that have been impacted or vulnerable to visual impairment. Our goal is to meet the pressing vision healthcare needs of those in our community.”
Water Facilities Hydroelectric & Solar Project – the City of Tampa
· The project would provide for further clean hydroelectric power generation at the Hillsborough River Reservoir Dam and enhance energy recovery at the Water Department’s remote pump station.
· Requested amount: $2,000,000
“In the future, our quality of life will depend on steps we take to make Tampa resilient today. These projects are an important investment in making our infrastructure sustainable. By reducing our carbon footprint and mitigating the impacts of rising sea levels, we will make our city a better place for future generations. I appreciate Congresswoman Castor’s hard work to deliver funding for projects like these to Tampa,” said Mayor Castor.
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