FloridaCommerce Announces More Than $25 Million Available for Florida’s Rural Communities

Sep 13, 2023

~ Counties impacted by Hurricane Idalia will be given additional consideration ~

Tallahassee, FL - Today, FloridaCommerce announced more than $25 million in funding available for Florida rural communities through the Rural Infrastructure Fund (RIF). The program facilitates the planning, preparing and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities to encourage job creation, capital investment, and the strengthening and diversification of rural economies. Additional consideration will be given to projects located within counties impacted by Hurricane Idalia. Applications will be accepted through Monday, November 6, 2023, and additional information is available on the Rural Infrastructure Fund webpage.

Governor DeSantis’ 2023-2024 Framework for Freedom budget included $20 million for RIF statewide funding and $5 million is dedicated to Panhandle counties which are continuing to recover following Hurricane Michael. This includes Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, and Washington counties. Additionally, during the 2023 Legislative Session, Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 1209 , supporting rural infrastructure and economic development and expanding opportunities for rural communities to receive funding through the RIF program. Changes made by HB1209 include:

  • Increased maximum award amount to 75% of total infrastructure project cost, or 100% for projects located in a fiscally constrained county or rural area of opportunity.
  • Removed requirement that eligible projects must be related to specific job creation/retention opportunities.
  • Removed improvements to broadband internet service from eligible uses of funds.
  • Allows for maximum award amount of $300,000 for all planning projects with no match requirements.
  • Removes match requirement for planning projects related to preclearance review within a rural area of opportunity.
  • Requires that review of applications include an evaluation of the economic benefit and long-term viability.

Funding in the amount of $20 million is available to rural communities statewide. Eligible applicants are local governments within an area designated as a Rural Area of Opportunity, or a rural county or community, pursuant to Section 288.0656, Florida Statutes. Eligible applicants for the $5 million in RIF funding designated for Panhandle communities includes local governments within Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, and Washington counties. Additional consideration will be given to projects located within counties impacted by Hurricane Idalia, as listed in the Governor’s Executive Order 23-175. 

Eligible projects include improvements to public infrastructure for industrial or commercial sites, upgrades to or development of public tourism infrastructure, and improvements to inadequate infrastructure that has resulted in regulatory action that prohibits economic or community growth.

To provide technical assistance and an overview of the application process, FloridaCommerce is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, at 11 a.m., Eastern Time. To register to attend the webinar, visit the Rural Infrastructure Fund webpage.

This funding continues Governor DeSantis’ commitment to the success of Florida’s rural communities, following nearly $31 million awarded through the RIF program to 20 communities in Fiscal Year 2022-23 and more than $57 million to 90 rural infrastructure projects since 2019. 

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