Volusia County’s ongoing economic development efforts to lure more industry and jobs to Daytona Beach International Airport received a major boost with an announcement in late July that Volusia County has landed a $4 million federal economic development grant, county officials said recently in a news release.
The grant funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) in the U.S Commerce Department will be used to expand infrastructure improvements to prepare the airport’s commercial/industrial park for future development. Targeting research and manufacturing, the infrastructure improvements are expected to result in $150 million private investment and the creation of 360 jobs.
Volusia County also is contributing $1 million in matching funds, a requirement for obtaining the grant.
Although no formal agreement has been executed, there is a specific economic development recruitment prospect that is being worked on. However, at this time the county isn’t releasing any details about what has been dubbed “Project COVID.”
The grant program is part of the federal government’s efforts to help the country recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic. Volusia County Manager George Recktenwald said the grant award will give the county economy a welcome boost.
“We’re extremely excited about today’s announcement and the impact it’s going to have in making our airport that much more competitive and attractive to private business and industry,” said Recktenwald in the county’s release. “This is the product of a lot of hard work and collaboration with our federal partners, and the end result will be job growth for our community.”
In a U.S. Department of Commerce news release, Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo said the grant is part of President Joe Biden’s economic development goals.
“President Biden is committed to harnessing the full power of the federal government to ensure our nation not only recovers from this pandemic but builds back stronger,” Raimondo said.
The tract of land at the county-owned and -operated airport has been targeted for private development for years. The federal grant that the county was just awarded relates to a 56-acre portion of the site plan eligibility area, in a quadrant of the airfield bounded by two taxiways and Bellevue Avenue.
The county has been looking for a funding partner, but most prior grant opportunities typically came with a required 50-percent match in local funds. However, due to the pandemic, the federal government reduced the match requirement to 20 percent. The county jumped at the opportunity and applied for the grant in July 2020.
The money will be used for site improvements such as water and sewer infrastructure and a drainage retention pond needed to make the parcel shovel-ready, a huge enticement for any business searching for a parcel to develop.
The project is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided the EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.