Governor Rick Scott announced the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) received a $2.1 million supplemental National Emergency Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (US DOL) to provide training and other re-employment services to approximately 94 oystermen to prepare for careers in other industries. Workers eligible for these services must have participated in the temporary jobs component of this emergency grant, which was provided in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012. Governor Scott said, “We will continue training workers and expanding the Apalachicola Bay economy with these funds. With this $2.1 million investment we will work to get this community back on its feet. We’re working tirelessly to support the natural treasures families in the area rely on.” This $2.1 million grant is separate from the funding previously received through FEMA's Public Assistance Program as well as the $6.3 million in projects Governor Scott announced in March that will be provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. U.S. Representative Steve Southerland said, “I appreciate Governor Scott’s continued leadership in helping ensure our oystermen get the disaster relief they so desperately need. With the future of Apalachicola Bay hanging in the balance, these resources are welcomed news in our fight to rebuild the local economy. While we may be a long way from restoring Apalachicola Bay’s oyster fishery, these additional funds help move us one step closer to the goal of restoring peace of mind for this proud, but struggling community.” “Diversification is a key element of a strong economy. We are dedicated to strengthening the Apalachicola Bay area economy both through job training and restoration of the oyster industry,” said DEO Executive Director Jesse Panuccio. “We look forward to continuing to work with this community to ensure a thriving Apalachicola Bay economy that supports multiple industries and jobs for Florida families.” On March 25, Governor Scott announced the projects in the Apalachicola Bay area that he is recommending to receive $6.3 million in disaster assistance funding to help restore economic vitality, and provide relief to the oystermen and their families. These projects will help the affected communities recover from the devastation and move forward to have sustainable fisheries and fishing communities in the future. The projects were focused on four areas and are subject to final approval from the NOAA. They are:
The initial recommendations were developed as a cooperative interagency effort that included input from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, and the Governor’s office. The final recommendations were made after consultation with the Seafood Management Assistance Resource & Recovery Team (SMARRT) in Apalachicola, the City of Apalachicola, the Franklin BOCC, and the local State and Congressional delegations.
- $4,569,767 for Apalachicola Bay Habitat Improvement.
- $415,473 for Monitoring of the Wild Apalachicola Bay Oyster Population.
- $563,233 for Vocational and Educational Training for Apalachicola Bay Oyster Industry Workers.
- $768,060 for Apalachicola Bay Processor Facilities Upgrades.