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DeSantis: Winter Haven to get $9.4M for infrastructure, job training

The governor says the funding will also create 5,000 new jobs across Polk County.

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Thousands of jobs and millions of dollars are coming to Winter Haven, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday.

DeSantis announced the city will receive $9.4 million from Florida's Job Growth Grant Fund. The funds will be used for infrastructure and job training, according to the governor. 

Additionally, the funding will bring about 5,000 jobs to the area, DeSantis said. 

DeSantis says Winter Haven and Polk County are one of the fastest-growing areas in the Sunshine State — and if you include the greater Winter Haven and Lakeland metro area together, it is tied for second-most growth in the nation from 2019 to 2020.

About $6.4 million comes through Florida's Job Growth Grant fund, and $3 million comes from the Florida Department of Transportation, according to the governor.

"We have grown here in the city of Winter Haven about 45 percent in the last decade," said Eric Labbe, the director of economic opportunity for the city of Winter Haven. 

DeSantis says the FDOT funds will go directly to road improvements for the Winter Haven intermodal logistics center, which he says is one of the largest industrial parks in the country serviced by railroad. 

And for those who don't work at ILC, the new and improved roadways can help shave down their commute.

"It redirects workforce traffic away from two school zones in the area, provides direct access to the employment base of Winter Haven," said Labbe. "It's a shorter route..."

The trucks that transport materials do not take the same roadways as local traffic, according to Labbe. 

"We also look at Florida as a whole and how can we attract any business [to Florida] and keep businesses here that want to grow," said Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle, adding, "and that's what the Job Growth Fund does."

"This is the perfect project with FDOT and DEO really doing the legwork," said Enterprise Florida Secretary of Commerce Jamal Sowell, "so now when we go to Chicago, California, New York and those other states where businesses are still closed down, we want to tell them about Polk County and why they should come here." 

You can watch DeSantis' full announcement here:

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