Governor Ron DeSantis recently released his Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget for Fiscal Year 2020-2021, which provides a more needs-oriented approach for rural communities to access funds within the Rural Regional Development Grant (RRDG) Program, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The Florida Rural Economic Development Association (FREDA) commends Governor Ron DeSantis for this recommendation and his support for Florida’s rural communities.
“Rural Florida is still struggling to compete for good, high-wage jobs. It’s clear Governor DeSantis recognizes the needs of our rural communities throughout the state and has been a champion for those areas that are still recovering,” said FREDA Chairman Antonio Jefferson, who also serves as the City Manager of Gretna. “Increased funding thresholds within the RRDG Program, and support for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, further solidifies his commitment to rural job growth.”
The RRDG Program provides funds to Governor designated Rural Areas of Opportunity (RAOs) to assist their communities in the creation and expansion of high-wage, skilled jobs that can greatly impact these regions of the state. Currently, Florida’s designated RAOs include Opportunity Florida in Northwest Florida, the North Florida Economic Development Partnership in North Central Florida and the Florida Heartland in South Central Florida. Increasing the RDBG Program funding will help the RAOs better deploy services and assist their communities in a way that provides benefits across industries instead of individual companies.
FREDA Board Member and Gilchrist County Commissioner Todd Gray said, “Having Governor DeSantis recognize the importance of these rural communities by providing funding in his proposed budget is a big step for all of rural Florida. If approved by the Legislature, I know the three organizations representing the Rural Areas of Opportunity in Florida will work together to ensure these funds are put to work for the people of rural Florida.”
FREDA Board Member and Okeechobee County Commissioner Terry Burroughs said , “The rural regional organizations in Florida are strongly encouraged by the Governor’s focus on the rural economies of our state. Our mission to bring jobs to those that need it most will be strengthened immensely by this program.”
FREDA is dedicated to the creation of employment opportunities in rural communities throughout Florida. The association is comprised of the three organizations representing the Governor-designated Rural Areas of Opportunity established in Florida.