Gov. Scott Announces $2.7 Million Grant for Displaced Oystermen - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Gov. Scott Announces $2.7 Million Grant for Displaced Oystermen

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Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that in response to the impacts of Tropical Storm Debby on the Apalachicola Bay, the State of Florida received approval for a $2.7 million National Emergency Grant (NEG) to provide temporary employment for those Franklin County residents who were adversely impacted due to the decline of oysters and other fisheries in the region. The state of Florida made the request for disaster assistance to the U.S. Department of Labor in October.    

Governor Scott said, "In October I met with families in Franklin County and saw their frustration and desire to return to the jobs they love. Apalachicola Bay is home to some of the best fisheries and oysters in the world, and we're committed to getting much needed support to the area. This funding will provide desperately needed employment and paychecks to those hardworking families who have been impacted. This support will also help put families back to work and begin the road to recovery."

The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) coordinated with the Gulf Coast Workforce Development Board and the local community to develop a temporary jobs project to reshell the Bay and help it recover and re-open to harvesting. The Grant is provided by the Department of Labor and totals $2,699,712, which will go towards hiring 200 dislocated oystermen, working under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs and the local Seafood Workers Association to reshell the Bay with live and dead oyster material from unaffected areas of the Bay to those oyster bars damaged by the storm. The reshelling project will operate through June 30, 2013.

"Under Governor Scott's direction, DEO coordinated with our fellow state agencies, Franklin County and the local workforce board to develop the most effective plan to respond to this disaster and get the necessary resources and supplies to those affected," said DEO Executive Director Hunting F. Deutsch. "I'm proud of the assistance we've been able to provide to the region and I look forward to continuing to assist Franklin County and its residents going forward."

Other forms of assistance to the area by Florida's workforce partners have included:

Training

The Gulf Coast Workforce Board developed an initiative, Franklin Works, to serve displaced seafood workers. It is comprised of three initiatives: classroom training, work-site based training and GED training for those who wish to earn their high school equivalency.

Clean up Employment

Florida received $256,953 in federal funding to support the hiring of 15 temporary workers to work for Franklin County and help complete the clean-up and restoration work in the region.

Long-Term Economic Diversification

DEO is currently working with Franklin County leaders to develop a long-term economic diversification strategy for the area.  This effort includes profiling the community and inventorying valuable assets including vacant lands, natural resources, maritime and inland infrastructure, recreational and educational opportunities, as well as other resources. This information gathered will be analyzed based on economic trends, strengths, barriers and opportunities.  Based on the outcome of the study, DEO will work with the county to develop goals and objectives, along with an action plan, to move the community toward economic diversification.

Food Drive

Thousands of pounds of food were delivered to Franklin's Promise Coalition in October through the efforts of state agencies and local organizations.

Resource Fairs

Three Resource Fairs were held with approximately 1,200 total attendees.  More than 150 individuals were assisted with filing and processing food stamp applications.  More than 200 people signed up for assistance through workforce programs while approximately 300 families have applied for emergency assistance.