SB 596 – Relating to Regional Rural Development Grants
On Tuesday, March 12, SB 596 by Senator Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) was heard before the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee and was reported favorably with 9 yeas and 0 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.
The bill makes changes to how the Regional Rural Development Grant program and the Rural Infrastructure Fund operate. Specifically, the bill amends the Regional Rural Development Grant Program to:
- Increase the maximum annual grant amount to $250,000 from $150,000 that three regional economic development organizations that serve the entire region of a rural area of opportunity may receive;
- Increase the amount of funds the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) may expend for the program to up to $1 million annually (from up to $750,000 annually);
- Reduce the required match the regional economic development organizations must contribute in non-state resources from 100 percent to 25 percent of the state’s contribution; and
- Allow the use of grant funds to build the professional capacity of regional economic development organizations. The bill amends the Rural Infrastructure Fund program to:
- Increase the grant awards to 50 percent of infrastructure project costs (up from 30 percent);
- Clarify that eligible infrastructure projects include access to broadband Internet service, and projects that improve service and access must be through a partnership that was publicly noticed and competitively bid; and
- Require the DEO to review the grant program application and award procedures by September 1, 2020.
SB 596 will now move to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
AIF supports efforts to increase economic development in Florida’s rural areas by increasing job growth.
Proposed Committee Bill HEC 19-02 – Relating to Postsecondary Workforce Education
On Wednesday, March 13, PCB HEC 19-02, sponsored and heard by the House Higher Education & Career Readiness Subcommittee, was reported favorably with 15 yeas and 0 nays. AIF’s Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster Bevis, stood in support of this legislation.
This bill promotes apprenticeships, enhances talent development, and increases career opportunities for Floridians by:
- Creating the “Strengthening Alignment between Industry and Learning (SAIL) to 60” Initiative and establishing a statewide attainment goal to increase the percentage of working-age adults who hold a high-value postsecondary certificate, degree, or training experience to 60 percent by the year 2030;
- Requiring the Florida Talent Development Council (formerly Higher Education Coordinating Council) to develop a strategic plan for talent development in Florida;
- Creating the Florida Apprenticeship Grant Program to provide competitive grants to career centers, charter technical career centers, Florida College System institutions, and other entities authorized to sponsor apprenticeship programs;
- Requiring the statewide articulation agreement to provide for a reverse transfer agreement for FCS associate in arts degree-seeking students who transfer to a state university prior to earning their associate in arts degree.
AIF supports legislation to improve and fund the organic talent pipeline and to create a strategy for talent development in Florida.
SB 178 – Relating to Florida Tourism Marketing
On Thursday, March 14, SB 178 by Senator Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) was heard before the Senate Appropriations Committee and was reported favorably with 18 yeas and 0 nays. AIF stood in support of this legislation.
This bill removes the scheduled repeal date for the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation, doing business as VISIT FLORIDA, and the scheduled repeal date for Division of Tourism Marketing within Enterprise Florida, Inc. VISIT FLORIDA is the name for the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation, a non-profit corporation that serves as Florida’s statewide destination marketing organization, and represents the state’s tourism industry. Without the bill, the statutory authorizations for these entities would be repealed on October 1, 2019.
SB 178 will now be heard on the floor of the Senate.
AIF supports investment in building a world-class marketing engine with top talent, analytics, and funding that develops and executes data-driven branding strategies.