The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Highlights Major Milestones in 2021 Investing in a Free Florida for Floridians, Communities, and Businesses Under the Leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis – FloridaJobs.org

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“With Governor DeSantis at Florida’s helm, DEO has accomplished significant milestones to ensure accessibility, transparency, and economic freedom, which has provided hard working Floridians, communities, and business owners with the resources they need to succeed,” said Secretary Dane Eagle of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “This year, DEO has worked with partners throughout the state to engage stakeholders on the progress of expanding broadband to rural communities, and modernizing the state’s Reemployment Assistance Program. DEO was also proud to stand with Governor DeSantis to provide much needed disaster relief payments to Florida First Responders who selflessly braved the impacts of the pandemic. Throughout 2021, DEO continued efforts to assist communities by providing Florida Job Growth Grant funding and disaster recovery funding to strengthen infrastructure and enhance Florida’s workforce in communities throughout the state.”
Throughout 2021, DEO has directly impacted the lives of more than 3.97 million individuals, including nearly 10,000 veterans, by providing assistance and resources to help them succeed long-term.
While other states continue to face economic hardship following the pandemic, Florida has experienced 19 consecutive months of job growth and 13 consecutive months of labor force increases while the state’s unemployment rate continues to decrease. These growth rates remain six times the national average, with workforce participation greater than that of pre-pandemic numbers.
In addition to helping Governor DeSantis advance Florida’s economy and workforce, DEO also assisted Governor DeSantis in helping many communities across the state in 2021 by providing more than $993 million in assistance and fostering community and economic development in the state’s rural and urban areas. DEO has assisted local governments and community organizations with efforts that prioritize local needs, balance state and federal requirements and resources, and promote viable, sustainable communities. Throughout 2021, DEO has continued to provide technical assistance and guidance on smart and strategic growth and development, grants, and other resources to local communities.
In an effort to assist Floridians, develop communities, and grow businesses, DEO is proud to highlight the following achievements, programs, and successes throughout 2021.
Enhancing Workforce Development
Throughout 2021, DEO has maintained steadfast focus on enhancing workforce development initiatives throughout the state.
Florida Heroes Initiative
Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, DEO administered disaster relief payments for the Governor’s Pandemic First Responders Program. This program provided up to $1,000 to Florida’s First Responders in recognition of the courage, sacrifice, and dedication these individuals showed in serving Floridians and their communities during the pandemic.
Assisting Floridians
Reemployment Assistance
Reemployment Assistance provides temporary wage replacement benefits to eligible individuals who are out of work through no fault of their own to assist in the process of becoming reemployed. Throughout 2021, DEO has been dedicated to paying Floridians the Reemployment Assistance benefits they are eligible for as quickly as possible. Improving the customer experience and implementing more efficient claims processing measures as part of the Reemployment Assistance Modernization Program has been a top priority for Governor DeSantis and DEO.
As part of modernization efforts and to better protect Floridian’s personal information, DEO implemented multi-factor authentication measures as part of the login process for the Reemployment Assistance system. With these enhanced security measures in place, DEO has successfully prevented nearly 60,000 fraudulent login attempts.
Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program
The main goal of the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is to retain continuity of water services to low-income households in Florida with an emphasis on prevention of disconnection and restoration of water services to households whose water services were previously disconnected.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that helps income-qualified families with home heating and cooling costs. DEO administers LIHEAP and allocates funding directly to a network of community action agencies located throughout the state of Florida.
Community Services Block Grant Program
The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program provides funding that helps Floridians with temporary and permanent housing, home repairs, housing and maintenance, and transportation services. On September 28, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified DEO that its Stage 3 Disaster Relief Supplemental Funding application for longer term recovery efforts was approved in the amount of $3.2 million. Florida will use CSBG Disaster Relief Supplemental Funds to reinforce the existing social services infrastructure to continue to support Hurricane Michael survivors’ ongoing personal recovery efforts.
Weatherization Assistance Program
The Weatherization Assistance Program provides grant funds annually through a network of designated local governments and nonprofit agencies to assist low-income Floridians with reducing energy costs by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes while ensuring their health and safety.
Reducing Fraud and Identity Theft
Strengthening Communities
Florida Job Growth Grant Fund
In May, DEO announced that the Florida Legislature appropriated more than $74 million to Governor DeSantis’ Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, an economic development program designed to promote public infrastructure and workforce training across the state. Since that announcement, more than $52 million has been awarded to communities and educational institutions for this purpose. Proposals are reviewed by DEO, Enterprise Florida, DOT, DOE and DEP, and chosen by the Governor to meet the demand for workforce or infrastructure needs in the community to which they are awarded.
Rural Infrastructure Fund
In 2021, the Rural Infrastructure Fund (RIF) provided assistance to 18 rural communities in Florida that will help facilitate the planning, preparing, and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities that encourage job creation, capital investment, and the strengthening and diversification of rural economies.
Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program
In July, DEO announced more than $19 million in grant awards through the Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant program to improve infrastructure, housing, community redevelopment, and job creation in nearly 30 small and rural communities as follows:
Competitive Florida Partnership
The Competitive Florida Partnership helps communities utilize their unique assets and challenges its leaders to set realistic goals to advance their economic development visions. A community that participates in this grant opportunity is committed to innovative strategies that promote partnerships, community design, and a viable economy. The partnership establishes a network of vibrant communities and passionate leaders who gain ideas on how to reach their goals through the success and lessons learned from their peers.
Office of Broadband
The Office of Broadband works to increase the availability and effectiveness of broadband internet throughout the state, specifically in small and rural communities.
Community Planning Technical Assistance Grants
Community Planning Technical Assistance grants, administered by DEO, fund innovative planning and development strategies to promote economic diversity while protecting environmentally sensitive areas.
Defense Infrastructure Grant Program
The Defense Infrastructure Grant Program supports local infrastructure projects deemed to have an impact on the military value of installations within the state. Infrastructure projects to be funded under this program include those related to encroachment, transportation, access to military installations, utilities, communications, housing, environment, and security. 
Defense Reinvestment Grant Program
The Defense Reinvestment Grant Program provides support to community-based activities that protect existing military installations. These grants are awarded to applicants that represent a local government with a military installation that could be adversely affected by federal actions.
Rebuild Florida Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery
Rebuild Florida Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds support communities by addressing long-term recovery needs for housing, infrastructure, and economic development from natural disasters.  
Rebuild Florida General Infrastructure Repair Program –In January, Governor DeSantis awarded nearly $100 million to 24 communities impacted by Hurricane Irma. In May, the Governor awarded $111.5 million to 22 communities in Hurricane Michael impacted areas. The program helps communities fund infrastructure restoration and improvement projects in communities impacted by disasters.
Rebuild Florida Hometown Revitalization Program – In August, more than $58 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis to Hurricane Michael-impacted communities that will support the recovery of economic activity in commercial areas of impacted towns and cities, along with facilitating the return and recovery of businesses, jobs, and provision of goods and services to the community.
Rebuild Florida Hazard Mitigation Grant Match Program –On the third anniversary of Hurricane Michael’s landfall, more than $3.1 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis for 12 projects. On December 16, an additional $8.8 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis for 32 projects. The program is designed to fund the local match portion of the award. FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) requires a 25 percent local match. These funds represent a unique and significant opportunity for the state, in the areas most impacted by recent disasters, to carry out strategic and high impact activities to rebuild and harden infrastructure to prevent or reduce losses in future disasters.
Rebuild Florida Community Development Block Grant Mitigation
Rebuild Florida Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds represent a unique and significant opportunity for the state of Florida, in the areas most impacted by recent disasters, to carry out strategic and high-impact activities to minimize or eliminate risks and reduce losses from future disasters. In addition to mitigating disaster risks, the funds provide an opportunity to improve state and local planning protocols and procedures.
Supporting Businesses
Surfside Business Assistance
After the Surfside condo collapse in June 2021, DEO deployed two mobile workstations from Tallahassee to ground zero in Surfside, Florida. DEO hosted the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to assist residents and businesses impacted by the condo collapse. This three-week mission provided critical outreach and assistance to more than 80 businesses in the surrounding area to promote programs available through DEO and the SBA.
State Small Business Credit Initiative
The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) offers loans to small businesses for qualified business purposes, including startup costs, working capital, business procurement, franchise fees, equipment, inventory, as well as the purchase, construction, renovation, or tenant improvements of an eligible place of business that is not for passive real estate investment purposes. SSBCI was reauthorized to support capital access initiatives for Florida’s small businesses, very small businesses, and those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. This initiative helps small businesses across the state expand, grow, and provide new opportunities for Floridians to advance Florida’s economy. Throughout 2021, SSBCI facilitated more than $117 million in private market lending activity by providing more than $32 million in SSBCI funding to help 16 businesses expand, create more than 250 jobs, and retain an additional 195 jobs.
Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund
The Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund provides existing and new Florida small businesses with easy access to available and affordable working capital at reasonable interest rates and terms to help them grow and expand.
Entertainment Industry Sales Tax Exemption Program
Qualified production companies that produce films, television series, commercials, music videos, or sound recordings in Florida may be eligible for a sales-and-use tax exemption on certain production related purchases in Florida.
Florida Defense Cybersecurity Training Program
DEO received a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation in the amount of $1,070,500 to create the Florida Defense Cybersecurity Training Program. The program provides education, cybersecurity assessments, and training seminars for small and medium-sized businesses in the Florida defense community as they work to implement enhanced DOD cyber regulations.
Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Tax Refund
The Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Tax Refund serves to improve economic opportunities within Florida’s brownfield areas, which are areas that have been designated as brownfields due to the presence or perceived presence of environmental contamination. The Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Tax Refund encourages redevelopment and job creation within designated brownfield sites, where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by actual or perceived environmental contamination.
Community Contribution Tax Credit Program
The Community Contribution Tax Credit Program provides up to 50 percent tax credit or sales tax refund incentive to encourage Florida businesses to make donations toward community development and housing projects for low-income individuals. The program has a total allocation of $14 million in state tax credits available.
Rural Areas of Opportunity Exempt Goods and Services Sales Tax Refund
The Rural Areas of Opportunity (RAO) Tax Refund program was established to encourage new construction projects within rural areas throughout the state. The program offers a maximum sales tax refund of $10,000 for the purchase of building materials used in new construction projects within designated rural areas of opportunity. 
Urban Job Tax Credit Program
The Urban Job Tax Credit Program offers an incentive for eligible businesses located within one of the 13 designated urban areas to create new jobs. The program provides meaningful employment opportunities that will improve the quality of life of those employed and promotes economic expansion of new and existing businesses in urban areas of Florida.
Research and Development Tax Credit
The Research and Development Tax Credit provides a corporate income tax credit for eligible businesses for certain qualified research expenses.
Space, Defense, or Semiconductor Sales Tax Exemption
The Space, Defense, or Semiconductor Sales Tax Exemption is used to attract and support existing Florida businesses in specific technology-based sectors by providing an exemption for sales and use taxes on new capital investments in machinery and equipment used in eligible manufacturing and research. 
Capital Investment Tax Credit
The Capital Investment Tax Credit is used to attract and grow capital-intensive industries in Florida. It is an annual credit, provided for up to twenty years, against the corporate income tax. Eligible projects must be in a high-impact sector and commit to at least 100 new employees and $25 million in capital investment.
Florida First Business Bond Pool
The Florida First Business Bond Pool is available to provide written confirmation for private activity bonds to finance Florida First Business projects.
Business Compliance and Accountability
About DEO


The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity combines the state’s economic, workforce, and community development efforts, expediting economic development projects to fuel job creation in competitive communities, and promote economic resiliency. For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job seekers, please visit www.FloridaJobs.org.


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