CHIPLEY - Hopes of being awarded $5 million in state funding to build infrastructure at Chipley's newly purchased spray field site were dashed Monday when the project did not come up on the list of regional projects Gov. Rick Scott signed off on in his final day in office.
However, local officials are optimistic and plan to continue to pursue funding.
"Just because we did not appear on the list doesn't mean the fight is over.
one of the most important projects to us," said Washington County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Tray Hawkins. "We find it very important for the county, as well as the city, to receive these funds to move on with the economic development of our county."
The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund was created with an initial $85 million in 2017 after a legislative battle about Scott’s request for economic-development money that could go directly to businesses. Lawmakers during the 2018 session replenished the fund with $85 million for the current fiscal year, which began July 1.
With the allocations Monday, Scott has used the fund for 56 projects across the state totaling $170 million, a news release from the governor’s office said.
In the latest round of funding, Scott directed the $18.3 million to be allocated with $5 million to the town of Callahan to provide water and wastewater service to an 1,841-acre industrial site; $4.7 million for Lakeland to develop two hangar facilities at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport; $2.3 million for Bradford County to build an access road through the Keystone Heights Airport; $1.7 million for Greenville to convert a building into a manufacturing facility and to construct a publicly owned building that would be leased as a grocery store; $971,500 for Avon Park to extend an industrial water and sewer system; and $3.6 million to create the State College of Florida Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. The projects were selected from more than 100 proposals, seeking a combined $620 million in funding, submitted to the state Department of Economic Opportunity.
In saluting the new governor Gov. Ron DeSantis, Hawkins said he will speak with officials in Tallahassee on Thursday and Friday about funding this and other projects.
"We'll be letting Gov. DeSantis know it is just as important to us with him as governor as it was when Scott was governor," Hawkins said.
In the meantime, City of Chipley has a plan in place to use funds from the United States Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Protections to fund the infrastructure project.
"We've got a plan to fund it now, it's just, any grant funding will take the brunt off the coffers of City of Chipley," said City of Chipley Administrator Dan Miner. "That's what we were kind of hoping for."
"We can always continue to apply, but we just have to see how it plays out," he added.
News Service Florida contributed to this news report.