Purpose

The Rural Infrastructure Fund (RIF) (Section 288.0655, Florida Statutes) is a reimbursement grant that was created by the Florida Legislature in 1999 to facilitate the planning, preparing and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities which will encourage job creation, capital investment and the strengthening and diversification of rural economies by promoting tourism, trade and economic development. This program is also intended to facilitate access to other state and federal infrastructure funding programs.

In 2019, the Florida Legislature created a specific appropriation for the RIF (Section 288.0655(6), Florida Statutes) that is available only to the following counties and municipalities within their boundaries: Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty and Washington. Eligible uses of these funds include roads or other remedies to transportation impediments; storm water systems; water or wastewater facilities; and telecommunications facilities and broadband facilities.

Eligibility

Eligible applicants are local governments of Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties and all municipalities within their boundaries.

Grant Application Cycle and Submission

A total of $5 million dollars in State Fiscal Year 2019-2020 funding is available for eligible applicants in the six-county region. The application submission period is September 23, 2019 – November 22, 2019. The complete application package must be submitted in electronic or paper form no later than 4:00 p.m. on November 22, 2019. The Application Form is available upon request.

DEO prefers electronic submissions, but mailed application packages are also acceptable. Request and submit application packages electronically to Robin.Liford@deo.myflorida.com. Submit application packages by U.S. Mail to:

  • Robin Liford
  • Department of Economic Opportunity
  • Bureau of Small Cities and Rural Communities
  • The Caldwell Building
  • 107 East Madison Street, MSC 160
  • Tallahassee, FL 32399

Types of Financial Assistance Available

  • Total Project Participation Grants - Grants may be awarded for up to 30% of the total infrastructure project costs related to specific job-creating or job-retention opportunities. The department may award grants for up to 40 % of the total infrastructure project cost for a catalyst site, as defined in Section. 288.0656, Florida Statutes. Eligible uses include improvements to public infrastructure for industrial or commercial sites and upgrades to or development of public tourism infrastructure such as: stormwater systems; telecommunications facilities; broadband facilities; roads or other remedies to transportation impediments.
  • Project Planning and Preparation Grants - Funding may be awarded for infrastructure feasibility studies, design and engineering or other planning and preparation activities. The maximum amount of a grant in this category is $300,000. Project Planning and Preparation Grants may be used in conjunction with Total Project Participation Grants provided that the total of both grants may not exceed 30% of the total infrastructure project cost; and 40% of the total infrastructure project cost for a catalyst site.
  • Preclearance Review Grants - To enable rural communities to access the resources available under the Expedited Permitting – Preclearance Review Process (Section. 403.973(18), Florida Statutes), grants may be awarded for surveys, feasibility studies and other activities related to the identification and preclearance review of land which is suitable for preclearance review. The maximum grant award amount is $300,000 and requires a 33% local match.

Additional Information

The RIF grant may not be used to pay for administrative fees or cost. At DEO's discretion, funding may be approved for a lower amount than requested in the application. In reviewing the applications, DEO will evaluate the projects based on the following factors:

  • The economic impact or benefit of the project to the community or region and its long-term viability
  • The project's potential for enhanced job creation or increased capital investment
  • The demonstration and level of local public and private commitment
  • Whether the project is located in an enterprise zone, a community development corporation area, or an urban high crime area (Section 212.097, Florida Statutes)
  • The unemployment rate and poverty rate of the county in which the project would be located
  • The extent to which the application seeks to minimize consultant expenses
  • The degree to which each application meets program requirements and criteria

Please thoroughly review the Application Form. Contact either of the staff listed below to answer any questions or to discuss the project and application before submitting the complete application package.

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