Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday issued $4.2 million to the Lee County Port Authority to improve a road leading to the Southwest Florida International Airport near Fort Myers.
It was the first grant from the Job Growth Grant Fund issued since the start of the new fiscal year, which began July 1. Lawmakers set aside $50 million for the fund in this year’s budget, using money from the federal COVID-19 stimulus money, which DeSantis opposed.
“Since July 2021, my administration has invested $87 million in Florida communities through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to support projects that make strong impacts,” DeSantis said in a released statement. “These investments support future growth for Florida communities and create new opportunities for residents.”
The application from the Lee County Port Authority states the entity is seeking $16.5 million in additional funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to pay for the project, which should take 18 weeks to bid out after receiving the grant, and another 301 days to complete once construction begins, or about 15 months in all.
Unlike other grant fund announcements, DeSantis did not hold a press conference, instead issuing a press release with a video filmed in his office.
“Southwest Florida is growing, and we’re working to ensure that those residents have the resources they need and the infrastructure they need to sustain this growth,” DeSantis says in the video.
The improvements to the road are designed to increase access to terminals and nearby commercial development sites.
“This project will bring more than 1,000 jobs to Florida’s workforce, and I am excited for the economic diversification and workforce development it will achieve within Lee County communities,” said Dane Eagle, Secretary of the Department of Economic Opportunity, which administers the grant fund.
The Job Growth Grant Fund was created in 2017 under then-Gov. Rick Scott to allow the governor to evaluate infrastructure and job training projects and award them to local governments, port authorities and other transportation boards and state colleges and universities.