Florida Back to Work Program Receives Federal Funding (03/10/2010)

For Immediate Release 
March 10, 2010  

Governor's Press Office

Florida Back to Work Program Receives Federal Funding

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today announced that the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, in partnership with the Florida Department of Children and Families, Workforce Florida Inc., and the Regional Workforce Boards, will receive its first installment of $61.2 million of funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service in the $200 million Florida Back to Work initiative.   Distributions of the remaining funds will follow. 

“Today businesses are one step closer to growing stronger as we revitalize Florida’s economy,” said Governor Crist. “The Florida Back to Work program provides businesses a tremendous opportunity to give someone in need a fresh start and a new direction for the future.”

With the release of funds by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Regional Workforce Boards will immediately finalize agreements with businesses to hire and train employees.  Florida Back to Work uses federal dollars to pay for up to 95 percent of a new hire’s salary.  New employees must meet federal low-income guidelines and have a dependent child in the home to be eligible for the positions.

“The Governor’s Florida Back to Work program highlights the innovative and creative approach we must use to help our state’s struggling business owners and families,” said Agency for Workforce Innovation Director Cynthia Lorenzo.  “This is a practical approach to creating jobs and getting people back to work.”

The Florida Department of Children and Families has successfully used similar federal funding to open a call center in Ocala last year. The call center is helping to serve Floridians needing help with temporary assistance while employing dozens of Floridians.

"As the Department, the Agency for Workforce Innovation and our many state and local partners have shown with the success of the Ocala call center, this funding will help individual Floridians and the state's economy as a whole," said Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon.

To date, AWI received more than 1,100 applications from employers and businesses throughout the state.  These proposals include a wide range of businesses, including local government and non-profit organizations, restaurants, manufacturing companies and child care centers.  The majority of the jobs will fall in the $9- to $14-per-hour range. 

AWI estimates Florida Back to Work will create as many as 10,000 direct jobs and 15,000 indirect jobs through additional economic activity.  Although federal funding for the program ends in September, the goal of Florida Back to Work is that participating businesses will retain the new employees.

"This program demonstrates the power of collaborative partnerships as government and business work together to create new economic opportunities for Florida workers and boost the productivity of businesses across the state." said Workforce Florida President and CEO Chris Hart IV. "It is already being recognized as a national model for job creation, reaffirming Florida's reputation as an innovator."

Participating employers will be listed on the Employ Florida Marketplace Web site, where eligible Floridians can also register and apply for available positions in their area.  To learn more about the workforce services and resources available in Florida, visit EmployFlorida.com.

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