Gov. Rick Scott announced a new program Friday to connect Hurricane Maria storm refugees from Puerto Rico with jobs in Florida.
Scott said a $1 million “investment” has been established for 12 state workforce development organizations to help some of the nearly 300,000 Puerto Ricans enter the Florida workforce after they relocated to the state following Maria which slammed Puerto Rico on Sept. 20. Much of the money is distributed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and will go to CareerSource Florida, which is a jobs development agency. There are multiple CareerSource bureaus in the state that will receive the funds to assist Puerto Rican Refugees, including CareerSource in Flagler County.
Most of the CareerSource bureaus receiving financial assistance are in Central and South Florida, a news release from Scott’s office said Friday. The prepared statement said about 7,600 people from the U.S. island territory have already sought career assistance service since being displaced and relocating to Florida.
The funding will help those storm refugees with career counseling services, extend CareerSource hours of operations, translation services, hiring events and other services.
Scott made the announcement following a town hall meeting with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosello Friday where the two leaders hammered out assistance agreements.
“This investment will connect even more individuals with great jobs,” Scott said in a prepared statement.
In addition to the jobs help, Scott announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin providing case management services for families displaced after the destruction from Maria on Puerto Rico. There will also be assistance in housing to help Puerto Rican families settle in the state.
“The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and our partners continue to work diligently with communities across the state to provide assistance to displaced Puerto Rican jobseekers and families,” said Cissy Proctor, executive director of the DEO.
“We are currently assessing housing and employment services so that we can better meet the needs of those who came to Florida for help after the devastation of Hurricane Maria,” Proctor said.
While Flagler County is the only specific First Coast county earmarked for the funding, the influx of Puerto Rican refugees since Maria has strained resources in other North Florida counties.
The Puerto Rican-Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Northeast Florida in recent months has been dealing with many refugees. In a Times-Union report in late December, Nancy Quinones, president of that group, said her organization was helping resettle as many as 100 storm refugees each week.
Quinones said the chamber was also helping many new arrivals who came to Northeast Florida after failing to find work in Central and South Florida, where Puerto Rican refugees are most concentrated.
Drew Dixon: (904) 359-4098