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A year after hurricane Michael, Panama City is still hopeful — still needs more help.

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Rural Panhandle communities get $5.4M in state funds for infrastructure projects

The dollars come from the Rural Infrastructure Fund

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday the state will distribute $5.4 million for infrastructure projects in 15 Hurricane Michael-stricken rural communities. 

The projects come from the Rural Infrastructure Fund (RIF) and span across Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties. The Legislature created the appropriation in 2019 to encourage job and business growth, and to strengthen and diversify rural economies. 

“Hurricane Michael left devastating impacts throughout Northwest Florida and communities are still trying to rebuild,” DeSantis said. “I appreciate the Florida Legislature’s quick and creative utilization of the Rural Infrastructure Fund to help Northwest Florida rural communities recover and focus on rebuilding and developing more resilient infrastructure to move their local economies forward.” 

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, led by Executive Director Ken Lawson, administers the RIF. 

“I applaud Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for their commitment to help Florida communities with strengthening their infrastructure needs in these inland communities affected by Hurricane Michael,” Lawson said. “These smart strategic investments will not only help these communities recover from Hurricane Michael but will also help them develop stronger, more resilient economies.” 

The distribution is the latest in a series of funds for the Panhandle since Michael struck the region in October 2018. Last week, DeSantis announced a disbursement of $28.9 million in federal and state funds for Michael and Hurricane Irma recovery. From the Federal Emergency Management Agency came $19 million while a state citrus recovery grant doled out $9 million.

Jackson County will receive $1.9 million to develop a segment of broadband line in Marianna and Sneads. The county also gets $180,000 to pave Posser Road. 

In addition to the broadband line funds, Marianna will receive $300,000 for a traffic and pedestrian design study. And Sneads will get $282,000 for a water and sewer service expansion study. 

Bonifay will receive $446,000 to rebuild public parking in its downtown commercial district. A separate $277,000 goes toward a study on mitigating and preventing future downtown flooding. 

Written By

Renzo Downey covers the Florida Legislature for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering the Texas House of Representatives for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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