1(1) The department shall establish a matching grant program to provide funding to regionally based economic development organizations representing rural counties and communities for the purpose of building the professional capacity of their organizations. Such matching grants may also be used by an economic development organization to provide technical assistance to businesses within the rural counties and communities that it serves. The department is authorized to approve, on an annual basis, grants to such regionally based economic development organizations. The maximum amount an organization may receive in any year will be $50,000, or $150,000 in a rural area of opportunity recommended by the Rural Economic Development Initiative and designated by the Governor, and must be matched each year by an equivalent amount of nonstate resources. (2) In approving the participants, the department shall consider the demonstrated need of the applicant for assistance and require the following:
(a) Documentation of official commitments of support from each of the units of local government represented by the regional organization.
(b) Demonstration that each unit of local government has made a financial or in-kind commitment to the regional organization.
(c) Demonstration that the private sector has made financial or in-kind commitments to the regional organization.
(d) Demonstration that the organization is in existence and actively involved in economic development activities serving the region.
(e) Demonstration of the manner in which the organization is or will coordinate its efforts with those of other local and state organizations.
(3) The department may also contract for the development of an enterprise zone web portal or websites for each enterprise zone which will be used to market the program for job creation in disadvantaged urban and rural enterprise zones. Each enterprise zone web page should include downloadable links to state forms and information, as well as local message boards that help businesses and residents receive information concerning zone boundaries, job openings, zone programs, and neighborhood improvement activities.
(4) The department may expend up to $750,000 each fiscal year from funds appropriated to the Rural Community Development Revolving Loan Fund for the purposes outlined in this section. The department may contract with Enterprise Florida, Inc., for the administration of the purposes specified in this section. Funds released to Enterprise Florida, Inc., for this purpose shall be released quarterly and shall be calculated based on the applications in process.
1Note.—Section 56, ch. 2014-218, provides that:
“(1) The executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity is authorized, and all conditions are deemed to be met, to adopt emergency rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54(4), Florida Statutes, for the purpose of implementing this act.
“(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the emergency rules adopted pursuant to subsection (1) remain in effect for 6 months after adoption and may be renewed during the pendency of procedures to adopt permanent rules addressing the subject of the emergency rules.
“(3) This section shall expire October 1, 2015.”