The Florida A&M University (FAMU), Division of Research, Office of Technology Transfer and Export Control, in collaboration with the Gadsden County Development Council (GCDC), received a $500,000 strategy planning grant through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to further develop strategies to increase per capita income while reducing the prime-age employment gap in Gadsden County.
FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., welcomed the plan to provide better paying jobs for Gadsden County residents.
“This initiative is consistent with FAMU’s commitment to support communities and enhance sustainable economic development,” Robinson said. “We look forward to working with our friends and colleagues in Gadsden County to create new opportunities and jobs.”
Funded through the Distressed Area Recompete Pilot Program, the grant funds will focus on three areas: providing focused support to the existing agricultural enterprises to increase production, jobs, and earnings; supporting the development and expansion of small businesses within the county; and providing multiple wrap-around programs to workers to alleviate barriers to work, with programs engaging existing businesses within the county.
Worker support activities include developing strategies for the provision of transportation and childcare for workers in need of these services; development of a year-round work experience program; reentry program for residents who were previously incarcerated; and resource navigators to support workers on the job.
Recompete targets the hardest-hit and most economically distressed areas where prime-age (25-54 years) employment is significantly lower than the national average, with the goal to close this gap through flexible, locally driven investments.
Authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act, Recompete is a key part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. Recompete will invest $200 million in economic and workforce development projects that connect workers to good jobs in geographically diverse and persistently distressed communities across the country.
“Recompete helps fulfill President Joe Biden’s promise that no community in America will be left behind as we continue to grow our nation’s economy and invest in American workers,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “These Recompete finalists and grant recipients have presented a wide range of inspiring solutions to create jobs, develop long-term economic growth, and realize the full potential in communities that for too long have been overlooked or counted out.”
Recipients of the EDA Recompete Strategy Development Grants will help communities increase local coordination and planning activities, making them more competitive for future Recompete funding to implement all strategies.
Antonio Jefferson, chairman of the Board for the GCDC, a nonprofit founded in 2000 to promote the socio-economic development of Gadsden County, praised the partnership that involves the community’s key stakeholders.
“As a true public-private partnership comprised of business, education, workforce development, municipal, and county stakeholders, the Gadsden County Development Council is committed to executing this talent strategy development effort in partnership with FAMU,” said Jefferson, who is also Gretna city manager. “All the players necessary to develop successful strategies to sustain Gadsden’s legacy agricultural businesses and expand the workforce required by manufacturers, construction trades, and service providers are at the table.”