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Over $60 million dollars may come to Big Bend to create new jobs, improve economy

Posted at 7:43 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 19:43:07-04

(WTXL) — More than $60 million in economic growth could be headed to the Big Bend and will target technology and job growth in the community.

The Apalachee Regional Planning Council is currently in Phase One to get these federal dollars that could seriously change the game in the Big Bend.

"It's a billion-dollar competitive nationwide program trying to supercharge local economies."

Franco Ripple with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is breaking down what's at stake in the Big Bend.

It's called the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, a potential $60 million grant that will go towards creating jobs, supporting existing businesses and improving infrastructure for business growth in agriculture technology, aquaculture and new industries like industrial hemp processing.

The Apalachee Regional Planning Council is leading the charge to get this money, part of the American Rescue Plan and it will go towards nine Big Bend counties, also covering transportation, logistics, commercial driving, and much more.

"Building airport improvements, railroad improvements, and new technology hubs."

The Council is partnering with Domi Station to take this grant further. Executive Director, Robert Blacklidge, said they will be able to create hundreds of jobs at their organization, alone...and accelerate entrepreneurial opportunities across the Big Bend.

"By giving them the one, two, threes of what it means to be a business owner connecting them into a network of other business owners, and mentors, and subject matter experts."

The Council is partnering with the Florida Department of Agriculture and several local universities like Tallahassee Community College, Florida State University and Florida A&M, all working towards creating a robust local economy.

They're also teaming up with CareerSource Capital Region. CEO, Jim McShane, said everyone coming together will help get ahead of the growing labor shortages and supply chain gaps.

"Building a pipeline for the employers in those areas and in that sector, they're focusing on to make sure they have the staffing they need in the future," said McShane.

Phase One is the planning effort. If the Council is selected, they will get $500,000 by the Spring of 2022 to start drawing up what this plan will look like.