Governor Ron DeSantis yesterday signed House Bill (HB) 1209 to support rural development and economic opportunity by expanding opportunities for rural communities to be awarded funding through the Rural Infrastructure Fund (RIF). RIF is a grant program funded through the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) which supports rural communities that are planning, preparing, and financing infrastructure projects. Under HB 1209, DEO will now be able to award 75 percent of the infrastructure project cost. And for fiscally constrained counties or rural areas of opportunity, DEO will be able to award 100 percent of the total project cost. Additionally, this bill will allow more rural communities to apply for funding through the RIF program and remove barriers that currently prevent local communities from qualifying.
“It is important to ensure that our rural communities have the resources they need to support job growth and new opportunities for their citizens,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “I am proud to sign this legislation which will expand opportunities for rural counties to utilize these funds.”
HB 1209 increases the award amount that DEO can award for feasibility grants to $300,000 for all eligible applicants. Additionally, when feasible, this bill will allow DEO to release grant funds to directly pay an invoice related to a RIF-awarded project. Under current law, communities are reimbursed by DEO for costs they incur on qualifying projects. This provision will allow more small and rural communities to maintain their cash reserves and still utilize RIF funds to support local infrastructure growth.