DeFuniak Springs, FL – Triumph Gulf Coast’s Board has voted to support transformational workforce and entrepreneurial projects in five Northwest Florida Counties. Following Friday’s support to expand workforce industry certification provided by the Walton County Sheriff, the Triumph Board has approved projects in all eight Triumph counties.
The Triumph Board conducted its annual election with Don Gaetz being re-elected as Chair, Allan Bense elected Vice Chair, Stephen Riggs, IV re-elected Treasurer and Executive Director Susan Skelton (non- member) re-elected Secretary.
In Hurricane Michael impacted Franklin County, Triumph voted to move forward with a proposal from the Florida State University Coastal & Marine Laboratory (FSUCML) in St. Teresa for $7,998,678 from Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc. The overarching objective of Apalachicola Bay System Initiative (ABSI) is to provide information and tools that will facilitate the recovery of the Apalachicola Bay ecosystem, which is critical to the economy of Franklin County.
ABSI will partner with Franklin County community members as well as government, academic and non- governmental organization (NGO) stakeholders. Research will be done to gain insight into the extent of deterioration of the reef system and the underlying causes of the observed decline resulting in a plan of action for recovery of the oyster reefs and the health of the Bay.
The ABSI effort proposes to leverage substantial external funding in support of the research and plan implementation. Recovery of oyster reefs will translate into positive economic outcomes for those whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Bay.
The Triumph Board also moved forward an education proposal from Franklin County School Board (FCSB) that will result in industry certifications in subject areas including medical fields, welding and computer technology. The Triumph request of $2,327,322.00 represents 70.3 percent of total project cost over a 3.5-year period. FCSB will contribute $984,500.00.
It is expected that 800 CAPE Certifications will be obtained by students in elementary middle and high school over three and half years. A unique curriculum will also be introduced in Franklin schools that focuses on attributes of the regional seafood industry.
Triumph voted unanimously to approve a Term Sheet with Gulf County School District (GCSD) that will result in industry certifications in subject areas pertaining to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The Triumph request of $750,000 represents 53.5 percent of total project cost over a 5-year period. GCSD will provide $652,000 in instructor salaries and benefits as matching funds.
A minimum of 200 students will obtain Small UAS Safety certifications, Agricultural Use of UAS Technology certifications or Visual Line of Sight Operator (VOS) certifications over five years. UAS is a high demand and growing industry sector that is well-matched to the needs of the local economy.
Triumph voted to move to Term Sheet negotiations, contingent on resolution of several legal issues, with The Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) for $20 million infrastructure improvements including platens, dredging, bulkhead installation, launchways, equipment, and warehouse facilities and improvements to be installed at ESG’s Nelson Street facility in Panama City.
The project will enable ESG to achieve cost efficiencies in constructing the next generation Offshore Patrol Cutter for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). As with most types of public infrastructure assets, the U.S. Government does not build ships itself but instead contracts with private sector providers who bid via competitively awarded contracts to do the construction. The improvements will be dedicated exclusively for 20 years or more to a public purpose, namely the construction of Government-owned vessels to support national defense.
The Triumph Board’s contingent approval of $20 million represents 28% percent of ESG’s project valuation of $74,405,000.
The Walton County Sheriff’s Office gained support by the Triumph Board to move forward to a Term Sheet for $2,217,965.00 of Triumph funding to expand pre- and post-release technical education and certification training programs in partnership with Emerald Coast Technical College (ECTC), a part of the Walton County School District.
The funds will be used to pave a driving pad for CDL training and certification, expanded welding certifications and computer technology certification. The program will also allow Sheriff Department employees to take classes and earn certifications in computer technology. Triumph’s participation is just under 50% of the $4,451,565.00 project.
This program is expected to reduce the challenges of those released from jail in successfully re-enter the mainstream economy, gaining employment and decreasing recidivism. The results of this program will be studied by Florida State University.
Triumph Gulf Coast’s board of directors is appointed by the Governor, Chief Financial Officer, Attorney General and presiding officers of the Legislature. The appointees to the Triumph Board are Allan Bense, Dr. Pam Dana, Chair Don Gaetz, Ben Lee, and Stephen Riggs, IV and Jason Shoaf. All meetings of the board are public.