Regional Planning Councils Receive COVID-19 Recovery Funding
 
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on economies a cross the co untry, Congress appropriated $1.5 billion for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Each regional planning council (RPC) throughout Florida has been awarded a two-year, non-competitive grant of $400,000. As EDA designated Economic Development Districts, RPCs have well established economic development programs focused on regional resilience. This investment provides RPCs with the critical resources necessary to develop or update disaster recovery and resiliency economic development strategies and fortify those programs which assist communities in responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Through working extensively with regional stakeholders to develop a framework and strategies to facilitate economic recovery, efforts will focus on the most affected industries in each of the regions and will further enhance economic diversity efforts to create more resilient, innovative and globally competitive regions for the future.
 
To further aid economic recovery for the business community, EDA is also providing CARES Act funding to capitalize two of the existing Revolving Loan Fund programs housed at the Apalachee and South Florida RPCs. These funds provide short-term loans to businesses unable to secure traditional funding. This is particularly critical in revitalizing economic communities and creating new jobs.
 
This funding was in large part appropriated by Congress as the result of the advocacy efforts of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) working with Congressional leadership in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. NADO is a national trade association representing regional development organizations across the country, advancing regional strategies, partnerships and solutions to strengthen the economies of regions. North Central Florida RPC Executive Director Scott Koons serves on the Executive Committee of the NADO as Immediate Past President. In addition, Apalachee RPC Executive Director Chris Rietow and Central Florida RPC Executive Director Pat Steed serve, along with Director Koons, on the Board of Directors of NADO.
Tampa Bay RPC Releases 2020 All-Hazards Disaster Planning Guide
 
The Tampa Bay RPC began producing disaster planning guides for the region in the early 1980s and this year the Tampa Bay RPC is proud to provide the 2020 All-Hazards Disaster Planning Guide. The Disaster Planning Guide includes evacuation maps, shelter locations and hurricane preparation tips for the Tampa Bay area.  Over 160,000 Disaster Planning Guides have been distributed throughout Citrus, Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota counties and the digital guide is available online at tampabayprepares.org. The poster-size guides can be found in libraries, post offices and government buildings while supplies last.  Spanish language versions of the guide are available in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
 
 
 
The Tampa Bay RPC recently completed a hurricane preparedness project Project Phoenix 2.0: The Recovery. Funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the video features a realistic disaster simulation coupled with real stories of business owners challenged by a Category 5 Hurricane in Florida. The video is an integral part of a training exercise designed to improve communications between emergency managers and small businesses in the immediate and long-term recovery after a significant storm event. Project Phoenix 2.0: The Recovery combines professional services in audiovisual production, meteorological forecasting, storm damage assessment and modeling to support the work of a steering committee of emergency management professionals. A train-the-trainer webinar will take place in July 2020, and all training materials and videos will be available online at www.tbrpc.org/phoenix.
Apalachee RPC Prepares Long-Term Recovery Plans
 
On October 10, 2018 Hurricane Michael made landfall southwest of Calhoun and Liberty counties. Category 5-level wind gusts were experienced nearly 50 miles inland devastating homes, businesses, and the small communities that make up this rural area in the Florida Panhandle.
 
Each county was awarded a Community Planning Technical Assistance Grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to develop a long-term recovery plan. The Apalachee RPC was contracted to develop the plans with the support of OVID Solutions. To understand the outstanding needs, targeted stakeholder interviews were conducted, and community surveys were disseminated. Local feedback has been integrated throughout the plans to capture existing conditions, understand the hurricane impacts and identify remaining unmet needs. The countywide recovery plans identify priority projects that the communities hope to accomplish, along with a funding strategy for achieving each one. This is an opportunity for the county to re-imagine its long-term vision and implement it on a much faster timeline which will better position the counties for economic growth.
 
Calhoun and Liberty counties are designated as fiscally constrained and are part of a R ural Area of Opportunity. Given the pre-existing challenges, Hurricane Michael dealt a significant blow to their economic livelihoods, including damage and destruction to the heavily relied upon timber-based agricultural economy. The housing stock in each county suffered significant damage requiring full repair or replacement. Hundreds of businesses reported some level of damage to their structure, contents, or operations. Based on current calculations, there remains over $172 million and $61 million of estimated unmet needs in Calhoun and Liberty counties, respectively. To address critical needs, the counties are prioritizing the following strategies:
  • Remove barriers to resources available to support clearing, replanting, and restoring the timber industry.
  • Restore and expand of the Calhoun-Liberty Hospital.
  • Agricultural diversification to expand opportunities for new crops that have a shorter time-frame for harvest.
  • Restore damaged housing stock.
  • Create opportunities to incentivize the development of new single-family homes in a manner that is consistent with community character.
  • Critical enhancements to public facilities that are outdated and in need of redevelopment and hardening to withstand future storms including ambulance stations and new jails.
  • Update and expand sewer infrastructure in the City of Bristol and the City of Blountstown to ensure resiliency and offer opportunities for economic growth.
  • Seek cost-share match to maximize the return on investment of recovery funding.
  • Revitalize downtowns and commercial corridors to help support the growth and expansion of small businesses.
The grant period ended June 30, 2020 with each plan in draft form. The Apalachee RPC, in partnership with OVID Solutions, will continue to seek final adoption in the near future.   Out of disaster comes the opportunity to rebuild back stronger and more resilient. The Long-Term Recovery Plans for both Calhoun and Liberty counties have been designed to outline a new vision for recovering and economic growth.
 
FRCA Partners Meetings Schedule 2020  
 
Listed below are the upcoming Partners Meetings hosted by FRCA throughout the year.  If you would like to attend or present at one of the Partners Meetings, please contact Denise Imbler  at dimbler@arpc.org
 
December 4, 2020  9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. City Hall, Tallahassee
Contact: Denise Imbler  |  850.487.1426  |  flregionalcouncils.org