Scott’s “job grant” fund awards first recipient, House leaders noncommittal about renewing

Lee Herald Favicon 16The first grant from Enterprise Florida’s replacement has been awarded.

Manatee Technical College will be the first to receive a grant from Governor Rick Scott’s $85 million “job growth” fund.

The $201,500 award will go to helping the school purchase high-tech equipment that will allow them to expand their manufacturing and production technology program.

“This program was designed to support economic development projects that enhance workforce training programs, such as Manatee Technical College’s manufacturing program, so Florida can continue to compete in this global economy. Ensuring a well-trained workforce is vital to bringing new job opportunities to families in our state.” said Scott in a release on Wednesday.

The fund was created in June of last year during a special legislative session as a compromise between Scott and House Republicans. House Speaker Richard Corcoran opposed the state’s previous economic development arm, Enterprise Florida, which he characterized as a fund that gave money directly to corporations and lacked transparency. The shift in emphasis to job training and infrastructure seems to have eased concerns, but Corcoran said he and House Republicans will keep an eye on how funds are being allocated before approving another $85 million for next year.

“We’ll continue to watch and see what’s being done with the existing (funding requests),” Corcoran said. “He’s been very great at being very inclusive and giving us ideas of what he’d like to spend it on.”

According to the governor, the Manatee Technical College program was selected for its strong return on investment. The program predicted a $2 million economic impact per year in its application including an estimated 220 new due to advanced manufacturing training.

“Our agency has worked diligently to evaluate more than 200 Florida Job Growth Grant Fund proposals to ensure that these funds are spent wisely,” said Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “Manufacturing skills are needed throughout our state, but specifically in Manatee County where there are hundreds of manufacturers. Manatee Technical College has a successful existing program that will be enhanced by these funds.”

Information from The News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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