The Triumph Gulf Coast Board recently voted to fund eight projects in five counties totaling over $15M to create new high wage job opportunities and workforce training. These job projects will create a minimum of 500 new high wage jobs and at least 2,470 Career and Technical Education (CTE) industry certifications including Cybersecurity, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), Healthcare, Emergency Response and Industrial Trades across Northwest Florida.
The Triumph Board has entered into a Grant Award Agreement with Northwest Florida State College for a $2,763,716 grant to support the expansion of the Walton Works Training Center of Excellence at the College’s Chautauqua Center in DeFuniak Springs. The project creates a training hub in the northern part of Walton County, designated by the State of Florida as a Rural Area of Opportunity. The project will provide access to relevant training opportunities that are responsive to job demands and create a path to higher educational attainment and high wage careers.
The Walton Works Training Center project will prepare students for 20 different occupations and will reach a large number of students in subject areas with projected job growth. The project will establish workforce training programs in Industrial Trades (Electrical, Plumbing, Construction, Welding & Millwright); Cybersecurity; Unmanned Vehicle Systems Operations; Law Enforcement; Fire Science; and Emergency Medical Technician.
The Fire Science and Law Enforcement programs include collaboration with and onsite training at the Walton Sheriff’s facility also in DeFuniak Springs.
The Triumph Board also agreed to move to Term Sheet negotiation for a joint application from the Walton Economic Development Alliance (Walton EDA) Walton County and the City of DeFuniak Springs requesting $1,742,407 to extend water and sewer service along the west side of US 331for nearly 4 miles. The extension would run from approximately1-10 south to just north of Eglin Range Road.
The EDA, in conjunction with the County, is currently negotiating for parcels of land along the corridor that would be suitable for business, industrial, and commercial development. The proposed project is located in a state designated Rural Area of Opportunity (RAO).
The County has committed to creation and maintenance of at least 100 new to Florida private sector jobs at the new development. The jobs will be Qualified Target Industry (QTI) tax refund eligible, paying an average wage of at least 115% of the County wage. The EDA has a commitment from a defense contractor for the creation of at least 35 new jobs at the new site.
The Wakulla County School Board Term Sheet to start a UAS program at Wakulla High School was unanimously supported by the Triumph Gulf Coast Board. The $1,780,000 grant request will also provide additional CTE digital tools training for students in grades 3-5.
The UAS CTE program will provide students with industry-recognized credentials in this new and growing industry. Florida is among the top ten states predicted to create jobs and revenue as production and use of drones continues to increase.
Wakulla Schools has recently completed its first school year utilizing an initial Triumph grant including installation of computer labs in the county’s four elementary schools. Over 300 CTE digital tools certificates were awarded to elementary school students across the district in the first year, far exceeding the proposal’s commitment.
The Santa Rosa County request for a $4,500,000 Triumph grant to complete county infrastructure to the Blackwater Industrial Park for Project runner, a confidential competitive economic development project and the County’s request for a $3,500,000 Triumph grant over 10 years for property tax abatement for the same confidential competitive economic development project were unanimously approved to move to Term Sheet negotiations.
Project Runner has committed to create at least 400 new to Florida target sector jobs at an average annual wage of at least $46,000 as well as capital investment by the company of at least $50 million. The grant to Santa Rosa County would be part of a competitive incentive package that also includes property tax abatement and tax refunds from the county and state to win the project for the region.
The Triumph Board unanimously agreed to move to Term Sheet negotiations with Franklin County School Board (FCSB) for a $1,215,000 Triumph Gulf Coast grant for the second phase of their Environmental, Career and Technical Training plan. Phase II will add digital tool certifications for 4th and 5th grade students. At the high school level it will create opportunities
to earn Healthcare, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Safety certifications and Visual Line of Site System Operator certifications in a state designated Rural Area of Opportunity.
Participating in these pathways will afford students new opportunities for success in secondary school. It will also broaden their awareness of college and career pathways. The earning potential for these students will be increased due to their knowledge and increased skills. The certificate programs will provide students with skill sets that are in demand and surpasses the wages of most of the hospitality related jobs currently found in the community.
During a special meeting in July, the Triumph Board unanimously gave final approval to the Gulf District School Board for $250,000 in Triumph Gulf Coast grant funds to expand of the welding program at Wewahitchka High School (WHS). The grant will increase student capacity in existing welding program and retrofit an existing vocational building on WHS’s campus. Students will gain industry certification in the field of welding, a high demand occupation in the region. Hurricane Michael left unfathomable damage in its wake, but in doing so created more demand for skilled labor such as welders.
During the same meeting, the Triumph Board gave final approval to Gulf County School Board for a $125,000 grant to expand the agriscience CTE industry certification program at Wewahitchka High School (WHS). The Triumph grant will be used to purchase program equipment.
Agriscience program curriculum teaches a variety of skills enhancing student employability in agriculture-based professions as well as others career fields. Students enrolled in the agriscience program will be able to obtain certification in Agricultural Use of UAS Technology through the unmanned aircraft (drone) industry certification program being established at WHS through a separate Triumph grant.
Triumph Gulf Coast 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 Lewis Bear, Jr., Allan Bense, Dr. Pam Dana, Chair Don Gaetz, Ben Lee, and Stephen Riggs, IV and Matt Terry. All meetings of the Board are public.