TALLAHASSEE — A technical-college training program has become the first recipient of money from the state’s $85 million “job growth” fund, which was created last year as a compromise after a legislative battle about economic-development incentives.
Manatee Technical College was awarded $201,500 to help pay for workforce training programs in manufacturing, according to an announcement Wednesday by Gov. Rick Scott’s office.
“This program was designed to support economic development projects that enhance workforce training programs, such as Manatee Technical College’s manufacturing program, so Florida can continue to compete in this global economy.,” Scott said in a prepared statement.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who battled with Scott last year about incentives, called the award “an excellent one.” But he added lawmakers will wait to see how the governor dips further into the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, as Scott seeks another $85 million for next year.
“We’ll continue to watch and see what’s being done with the existing (funding requests),” Corcoran said. “He’s been very great at being very inclusive and giving us ideas of what he’d like to spend it on.”
Since being created during a special legislative session in June, the fund had attracted 217 proposals worth a combined $757 million as of Tuesday.
Among the requests are $23 million for the Apollo Beach Boulevard extension over Interstate 75 in Hillsborough County; $22.24 million for the 900-acre Crossroads Commerce Park in Marion County; and $10 million to help with $114.5 million in improvements at Port Everglades cruise terminal.
Scott last year initially requested $85 million to go to Enterprise Florida to help attract businesses. The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund was a compromise that requires money to go to regional projects rather than single businesses.
The announcement from the governor’s office said the Manatee Technical College proposal was selected due to a “strong return on investment to the state and the regionally driving demand for a robust manufacturing workforce.”
The application from the college estimates that 220 jobs are expected to be created over the next eight years from the “advanced” manufacturing training.
“The economic impact on the community will be over $2 million per year,” the application said.
The program has a projected $420,060 cost, of which just over half is expected to come from tuition and another fund.
Scott’s request for another $85 million next year for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund has drawn some questions.
"You expect us to grant this request before we have any information on the outcome from what you're proposing," Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said during a committee meeting last month on the request.
Among the concerns for some lawmakers is that the money will end up in a few districts.
Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, has offered support for Scott's 2018 request for the money.