Florida A&M University (FAMU) and the Gadsden County Development Council (GCDC) have joined forces to secure a $550,000 grant.
The strategy planning grant, from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will be used to provide better paying jobs for Gadsden County residents by developing strategies to increase per capita income while reducing the prime-age employment gap.
Expressing enthusiasm for the initiative, FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., highlighted the university’s commitment to supporting communities and promoting sustainable economic development.
“This initiative is consistent with FAMU’s commitment to support communities and enhance sustainable economic development,” Robinson said. “We look forward to working with our friends and colleagues in Gadsden County to create new opportunities and jobs.”
Funded through the Distressed Area Recompete Pilot Program, the university says grant funds will focus on three areas: providing focused support to the existing agricultural enterprises to increase production, jobs, and earnings; supporting the development and expansion of small businesses within the county; and providing multiple wrap-around programs to workers to alleviate barriers to work, with programs engaging existing businesses within the county.
University officials say the Distressed Area Recompete Pilot Program will allocate the grant funds to three key areas: providing targeted support to existing agricultural enterprises to boost production, jobs, and earnings; supporting the development and expansion of small businesses within the county; and implementing wrap-around programs for workers to overcome barriers to employment, engaging existing businesses in the county.
Worker support activities include developing strategies for transportation and childcare provision, establishing a year-round work experience program, a reentry program for previously incarcerated residents, and resource navigators to support workers on the job. The Recompete initiative targets the hardest-hit and most economically distressed areas where prime-age (25-54 years) employment is significantly lower than the national average, with the goal to close this gap through flexible, locally driven investments.
Authorized by the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce S and Science Act, Recompete is a key part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. Recompete will invest $200 million in economic and workforce development projects that connect workers to good jobs in geographically diverse and persistently distressed communities across the country.
Recipients of the Economic Development Administration’s Recompete Strategy Development Grants, including Florida A&M and Gadsden County Development Council, aim to increase local coordination and planning activities, enhancing competitiveness for future Recompete funding.
Antonio Jefferson, chairman of the development councils board, raised the partnership involving the community’s key stakeholders. This joint effort aims to sustain legacy agricultural businesses and expand the workforce, ensuring that no community is overlooked or counted out.
“As a true public-private partnership comprised of business, education, workforce development, municipal, and county stakeholders, the Gadsden County Development Council is committed to executing this talent strategy development effort in partnership with FAMU,” Jefferson, who is also Gretna’s city manager, said. “All the players necessary to develop successful strategies to sustain Gadsden’s legacy agricultural businesses and expand the workforce required by manufacturers, construction trades, and service providers are at the table.”
Erin Hill – Gadsden County News Service