Ron DeSantis Announces $4.9 Million for Rural Communities in Northwest Florida

Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced $4.9 million in infrastructure investments to eight rural Northwest Florida communities through the Rural Infrastructure Fund (RIF) program.

Awards include upgrading water and wastewater utilities, constructing public roadways and public building renovations. These awards will support business growth in Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty and Washington Counties.

“When we invest in infrastructure improvements, we are building a foundation of success for Floridians in our rural communities,” said DeSantis. “These investments will attract and expand business opportunities, facilitate the creation of good-paying jobs, and diversify local economies which will strengthen Florida Panhandle communities for generations.”

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, DEO is proud to administer the Rural Infrastructure Fund to support infrastructure improvements that will keep Florida’s economy strong to withstand future storms and national economic conditions,” said Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Secretary Dane Eagle. “These improvements will continue to shape the future of Florida by providing communities with the resources their residents need to start and expand their businesses, support their families, and enrich their communities.”

In 2022, the Legislature appropriated $30 million for eligible communities under the RIF program to assist in economic development projects in rural communities, of which $5 million is specifically for local governments in Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, and Washington Counties and all municipalities within their boundaries.

The RIF program is administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and provides funding to facilitate the planning, preparing, and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities that encourage job creation, capital investment, and the strengthening and diversification of rural economies.

The following communities will receive awards through the RIF Program funds:

City of Bonifay ($362,839) — to renovate the former Bonifay Middle School facility to accommodate business expansion and create 40 jobs.

City of Cottondale ($300,000) — to conduct a study to develop plans and construction cost estimates to upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment plant and spray field that will serve a $50 million business expansion project providing more than 50 new jobs.

Town of Alford ($285,000) — to conduct a study to determine deficiencies in the current drinking water system, and the best options to provide sufficient water supply for the expansion of local business and future business development.

Town of Campbellton ($494,500) — to design and construct public parking in the downtown business corridor to provide customer access to new and expanding local businesses.

Town of Grand Ridge ($274,500) — to conduct a study to determine and correct deficiencies in the current stormwater system that are causing repetitive flooding of commercial and residential areas. The study will include recommended mitigation actions, preliminary plans, and estimated costs to implement a comprehensive stormwater plan.

Holmes County ($1,870,700) — to extend water and sewer infrastructure for Project Gateway, a new 40,000 square foot travel center creating 120 jobs and a $20 million capital investment in the area.

Jackson County ($982,850) — to design, permit, and construct a public roadway and utility infrastructure for Project TAP, an advanced manufacturing facility creating or retaining 25 jobs and a $3.5 million capital investment in the area.

Washington County ($300,000) — to secure engineering design services of proposed infrastructure improvements for site certification of a newly developed 200-acre industrial park that will attract new business and industry to the county.

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