For Immediate Release 
December 17, 2009  



Governor Crist, AWI Announce the “Florida Back to Work” Program

~Promotes self sufficiency, employs Floridians and supports businesses~

www.FlaRecovery.com    –    www.FloridaJobs.org    –    www.EmployFlorida.com

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today announced that the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, in partnership with the Florida Department of Children and Families, Workforce Florida Inc., and the Regional Workforce Boards, are launching a new program designed to bolster businesses and create jobs for as many as 25,000 Floridians.  States can receive federal stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund.  Between now and September 30, 2010, Florida can potentially receive up to $200 million – with no matching state funds required – for the Florida Back to Work initiative designed to help pay for jobs for low-income families on a time-limited basis. 

“Nothing is more important than returning Floridians to the workforce and restoring their hope and economic security,” Governor Crist said. “These funds will provide businesses throughout our state a tremendous opportunity to give someone in need a fresh start and a new direction for the future.”

“Through this collaborative effort, Florida Back to Work will create jobs, support both families and businesses, and help reinvigorate the economy,” said AWI Director Cynthia R. Lorenzo.  “This program will provide funds for businesses to hire employees.  At the same time, the Florida Back to Work program helps transition people off of state cash assistance programs and into meaningful employment."

Yesterday in Ocala, Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul and other legislative leaders – along with Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary George Sheldon, the Citrus-Marion-Levy Workforce Connection Workforce Development Board CEO Rusty Skinner and other community leaders – formally announced the first successful Florida Back to Work pilot project, a DCF call center in Marion County.  The call center exemplifies the benefits of the partnership by employing 75 citizens who were struggling to find work. Until this new opportunity became available, 85 percent of the call center employees previously had been receiving unemployment compensation benefits. 

"Thanks to our team, including legislative and community partners, this call center has shown that creative thinking and quick action can help Floridians,” said DCF Secretary George Sheldon. “We look forward to expanding these efforts and helping more people in need.” 

“Workforce Florida’s top priority is getting Floridians back to work, and this initiative advances that goal,” said Chris Hart IV, president and CEO of Workforce Florida. “Striving to achieve this goal during an unprecedented economic downturn has required the workforce system to seize upon opportunities that may be non-traditional, but will result in access to jobs and training for the Floridians most in need.”

Bolstering Florida’s Businesses

Public and private employers can enter into contracts with local Regional Workforce Boards to cover nearly all of the salary costs for employees.  The program will pay up to 95 percent of the salary cost for each employee.  For example, if an employee earns $12 an hour, the Florida Back to Work program pays $11.40 and the business pays sixty cents.  Paying such a significant portion of an employee's salary will have a dramatic and positive impact on hundreds of Florida’s struggling businesses.

“Florida’s business community needs partnerships like these to do what they do best – strengthen our state’s economy,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.  “This program lowers the cost associated with hiring and keeping employees.  It will help businesses bring in talent, energize the economy and improve their communities.”

Additional Florida Back to Work job sites will be locally coordinated through Florida’s 24 Regional Workforce Boards, which will link local businesses with eligible employees.  Businesses and job seekers interested in participating in the program should contact the local Regional Workforce Board in their area which can be found online at: http://www.floridajobs.org/workforce/BacktoWork/rwb_contacts.htm.  Contact information for the Florida Back to Work program can also be found at www.floridajobs.org by clicking on the “Florida Back to Work” button under Quick Links. 

For more information about Florida’s use of the federal recovery dollars made available through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, please visit www.FlaRecovery.com..

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