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DeSantis hopes $7.7M in educational funding will help rebuild SWFL's workforce

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced funds for workforce development at a news briefing on Matlacha on Wednesday.
File photo
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced funds for workforce development at a news briefing on Matlacha on Wednesday.

The state of Florida awarded Southwest Florida community and technical colleges as well as workforce programs with some $7.7 million in additional funding Wednesday in an effort to rebuild the region’s workforce and ultimately help fuel the battered Southwest Florida economy.

In the announcement, Gov. Ron DeSantis said a strong workforce is crucial to getting people back on the feet. The money will assist thousands of people interested in careers in nursing, information technology as well a long-haul truck driving and welding among other careers and trades.

“At the end of the day we want the money to be as impactful for people,” DeSantis said.

The governor made the announcement in Matlacha, a community decimated by Hurricane Ian on Sept. 28.

DeSantis, who was in Matlacha just two days after the category 4 hurricane roared ashore obliterating homes, businesses and the road connecting to the mainland to the island, remarked Wednesday about the communities’ resiliency.

“This is an area primed for a big economic recovery coming out of this,” he said. “It’s a great part of the world.”

He said he believes best days are ahead for Southwest Floridians and thanked them for helping him retain his governorship in a blow-out race against former governor Charlie Crist.

Statewide, DeSantis won by 19 percentage points. In Lee, the margin was even bigger: 68.79 percent to 30.7 percent.

“That was a huge thing,” he said.

Many, DeSantis said, predicated incorrectly that Southwest Floridians would be too consumed with the hurricane’s aftermath to cast their ballots.

They were wrong.

“People came out big. Thank you it means a lot and well continue to be here helping out,” he said.

Even before the Florida win, DeSantis has been widely thought of as the emerging standard-bearer of the Republican Party and potentially the Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential race.

Though he has never announced his intentions to possibly leave the governorship midterm for the presidency, DeSantis refused to answer if he is indeed seeking the highest seat in government when asked by rival Crist in their only debate.

True-to-form, former President Donald Trump credits himself with DeSantis rise to power and victory to the state’s capital in 2018. At the time, the two appeared to be strong allies.

Now there is great distance between the two as they possibly gear up for a potential show-down

Trump who helped fuel the January 6 insurrection of the Capital after his failure to acknowledge he lost his re-election bid, announced his intentions to take another run at it Tuesday night.

Leading up to the announcement Trump has been taking jabs at DeSantis on social media. He did not mention DeSantis Tuesday evening.

Wednesday DeSantis was asked about the divisions within the Republican Party.

"Ok, people just need to chill out a little bit," the governor said when asked if there was a burgeoning "civil war" in the GOP between him and Trump.

Funding highlights include:

$7.7 million through WIOA and the JGGF to administer funding for rapid credentialing programs.

  • State College of Florida ($2,940,000) – for the commercial driver license credentialing program.
  • Florida Southwestern College (1,980,000) – for information technology credentialing programs.
  • South Florida State College ($618,842) – for commercial driver license, welding, and tractor programs.
  • Fort Myers Technical College ($973,000) – for diesel maintenance mechanic and Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) programs.
  • Cape Coral Technical College ($200,000) – for practical nursing credentialing programs.
  • $482,000 through the Governor’s Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to support credentialing program equipment needs across the five awarded educational institutions.
  • $1 million to CareerSource Suncoast, CareerSource Heartland, and CareerSource Southwest Florida to provide training and support for rapid credentialing programs. 

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