Saturday, November 13, 2004

Rural Counties Get Grants

LABELLE, FL. -- Governor Jeb Bush today awarded Florida's Heartland
Rural Economic Development Initiative, Inc. (FHREDI) a $100,000 Regional
Rural Development Grant to promote economic improvement initiatives.
Governor Bush designated this rural south central region of Florida as one
of three "Rural Areas of Critical Economic Concern" in 2001.

"Through their strategic focus and hard work, FHREDI has proven to
be an outstanding partner with the state, helping to promote and increase
viable economic programs and initiatives in Florida's heartland region,"
said Governor Bush. "I am pleased to provide this rural development grant
to the organization to further their efforts to enhance that base."

FHREDI is a regional economic development organization serving
several rural communities in south central Florida to include DeSoto,
Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands and Okeechobee counties, as well as the
Glades Communities of Pahokee, Belle Glade, South Bay and Immokalee. The
organization works within the region to promote job creation, business
retention, relocation, expansion and overall economic initiatives. In the
aftermath of the recent hurricanes, FHREDI partnered with the Governor's
Office and Enterprise Florida, Inc., to administer the small business
emergency "Bridge Loan" program, facilitating $1,750,000 in short term loans
(up to $25,000 each) to small business owners in the region that incurred
physical damage as a result of the storms.

"FHREDI is making real progress for our region and this grant will
help us raise it to the next level," said K.S. (Butch) Jones, Glades City
Commissioner and Chairman of FHREDI. "I send my heartfelt appreciation to
Governor Bush and his staff for seeing our potential and partnering with us
to realize it, in part through providing this grant today."

The Governor's Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development oversees
the state's rural economic development initiatives. Since taking office in
1999, Governor Bush has worked diligently to put rural Florida on a more
competitive footing with the rest of the state. Among the many rural-based
initiatives, Governor Bush created the "Rural Areas of Critical Economic
Concern" which provides rural areas with greater access to the state's
economic and tourism development incentive programs.

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