"Back to Work" money will finally be flowing back to Florida.
Gov. Charlie Crist said Wednesday that the state is receiving its first installment of $61.2 million for the jobs stimulus program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Distribution of the rest of the estimated $200 million will follow, he said.
"Today businesses are one step closer to growing stronger as we revitalize Florida's economy," Crist said in announcing the funding.
As the St. Petersburg Times reported last week, Florida had lined up 900 projects that could result in nearly 10,600 short-term jobs, but was held up waiting for federal approval. Under the Back to Work program, stimulus funds would pay for up to 95 percent of salary and training costs for new hires if employers agree to keep those jobs until at least September.
WorkNet Pinellas, one of 24 regional workforce boards, was one of the most aggressive participants in the program. It has lined up 18 employers pledging to create 979 jobs for a federal subsidy of $21.3 million.
The program was supposed to start Feb. 1.
However, as of last week, Florida had received only $1.7 million for a small pilot program, while California had received $195 million and New York had received $191 million.