A $13 million grant is going to help displaced Puerto Ricans in Florida find jobs

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MONIVETTE CORDEIRO
  • Monivette Cordeiro
The U.S. Secretary of Labor has awarded Florida more than $13 million for the National Dislocated Worker Grant, announced Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando, today.

The program is designed to provide extra money to states as a response to an increased number of unemployed workers, such as the nearly 300,000 Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders who relocated to Florida after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated their homes.

According to the news release, more than $4.3 million will be released initially. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will implement the grant statewide.

“This is an important step toward restoring stability for thousands of Americans displaced by this year’s devastating hurricanes. I want to say to every evacuee in my district: You are welcome here, and if you choose to stay, we will do everything in our power to help you prosper. If you require assistance, please reach out to my office,” Demings says in a news release.

On a similar note, earlier this month, Gov. Rick Scott promised a $1 million investment for 12 state workforce development agencies that would help displaced Puerto Ricans and the Virgin Islanders find employment.

CareerSource, a jobs development agency, will partner with both the federal grant and Scott’s proposal to distribute the money from the grant and the statewide investment – most of which will be used throughout Central and South Florida, where the majority of hurricane evacuees were displaced.

“As families continue to move to Central Florida, the announcement of this much-needed grant comes as incredibly good news to all of us who are partnering to provide new and accessible opportunities to this new workforce,” says Pam Nabors, CEO and president of CareerSource Central Florida, in the release.

According to estimates from the governor’s office, around 8,000 Puerto Ricans have sought assistance with career services since evacuating to Florida.

“Our post-hurricane effort should focus on two goals: First, we should ensure that every Puerto Rican and Virgin Islander who wants to stay in Florida can find prosperity and security here. Second, we should give displaced families from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands the opportunity to return to reconstructed and thriving homes,” Demings says.

She adds: “I am glad that the federal government will begin supporting the tremendous efforts already being made by Central Florida’s businesses, individuals and Puerto Rican residents, and I will continue to work with CareerSource and local businesses to realize the aspiration of steady employment for every Central Floridian. As a founding member of the Congressional Task Force on Puerto Rico Arrivals to Central Florida, I will continue to keep this issue front and center in the coming months.”