By Margaret Wuerstle
Executive director, SWFRPC
FORT MYERS — The Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council (SWFRPC), a government agency encompassing the six counties of Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry and Glades, recently received $400,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support economic resilience efforts across the region directly related to the coronavirus pandemic. The SWFRPC operates a diverse array of grant-funded programs and planning functions for our region staffed by professional and support staff in the following disciplines: urban and regional planning, economic/community development, environmental planning, emergency preparedness and quality of life initiatives. The SWFRPC has extensive experience with managing a wide array of federal and state grants, including many EDA planning partnership grants.
Economic resilience refers to the ability of local economies to “bounce back” to normal conditions after losing function because of an uncontrollable event. In the face of a disaster, such as a public health crisis or hurricane impact, resilient economies have the capacity to quickly respond to, withstand and recover from adverse situations. The funding will enable the SWFRPC to focus staff resources, over the next two years, toward priorities related to coronavirus response, recovery and long-term planning. In responding to the current disaster, staff will work with stakeholders on the ground to assess incurred economic damage and will conduct quantitative research focused on understanding the impacts felt by specific industries. The SWFRPC will be able to directly assist local governments in the long-term recovery process that lies ahead.
The SWFRPC, which serves as the federally designated Economic Development District for Southwest Florida, will work closely to align the priorities of this funding opportunity with the goals and objectives of the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). Our extensive group of economic development partners along with our CEDS Committee provide us with an advantage to assess business models and assist small businesses. This project will allow our region to update and enhance its shared framework for economic development and resiliency through short-term and long-term economic development planning. It will allow us to assess impacts and provide support to our communities and business as we recover from COVID-19’s devastating economic injuries.
For more information on this project, please email Margaret Wuerstle at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, visit swfrpc.org.