FRCA Forward – May 2018

South Florida and Treasure Coast Regional Planning Councils
Partner to Protect the Reef

The South Florida and Treasure Coast Regional Planning Councils are actively involved in activities to further the study and protection of the Florida Reef Tract. Over the last four years Florida has been struggling to diagnose and treat a cataclysmic nearshore coral reef disease outbreak affecting the Florida Reef Tract between Martin and Monroe counties. It is spreading rapidly and unfortunately, in April, was found in the nearshore reefs in the lower Florida Keys.

This issue is of such great importance that in January the Councils convened a shared staff working group to identify and implement action steps to raise awareness and find resources to protect and save this important state and national treasure. This initial working group includes Councilmembers and staff from both regional planning councils, the region’s counties, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and The Nature Conservancy. Over the last few months notable successes include passage by State Senator Lauren Book and State Representative Kristin Jacobs of Senate Bill 232 and House Bill 53 establishing the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area as well as continued funding by Congress of the South Florida Geographic Initiative. Full funding of the South Florida Geographic Initiative is a critical part of ensuring that additional science, data, technical assistance, and financial resources for understanding and treating the reef disease are available.

Councilmembers Mayor Beam Furr (Broward County) and County Commissioner Doug Smith (Martin County) updated the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) at their April meeting in Fort Lauderdale. The FFWCC is working with staff to provide a more extensive update at their upcoming June meeting in Sarasota. In addition, the staff working group is organizing a special briefing for the region’s Chambers of Commerce leaders and Tourist Development Organizations on the disease outbreak and response efforts by local, state, and federal agencies. The Councils will be requesting their assistance with coordinated messaging and marketing efforts, and engaging these business leaders in advocacy for the Florida Reef Tract. If you are interested in learning more about this initiative, please contact Isabel Cosio Carballo ( and Michael J. Busha (


Tampa Bay RPC Hosts 26th Annual Future of the Region Awards

This year marks the 26th Annual Future of the Region Awards hosted by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. Over 300 people attended to honor and recognize notable achievements in innovative regional planning. The Future of the Region Awards event highlights projects and programs that exemplify regionalism and recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions that benefit the regional community. The Council’s mission in recognizing excellence is to encourage future vision and collaboration among our communities and local governments.

Held on Friday, May 18th, 2018 at the Hilton Carillon Park Hotel in St. Petersburg, this year’s event was the largest to date and featured a video from Senator Bill Nelson’s office. The event has grown to include six corporate sponsors and 55 competitive entries from both government agencies and the private businesses.


West Florida RPC Hosts Grants Workshop

On April 26th the West Florida RPC hosted the 2018 $how me the Money Grants Workshop in DeFuniak Springs. The event was designed to help area grant writers, planners, elected officials and other county, municipal and state department staff members better understand ways to seek additional funding through grants. More than 70 attendees spent the day networking and hearing from regional grants experts. Special speakers included:

* Stephanie Hodges, Area Director for the Ocala Office of USDA Rural Development

* Greg Vaday, Economic Development Representative for Florida for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration

* Cori Henderson, Director of Business Development for Enterprise Florida, Inc.

* Patrick Howard, Government Operations Consultant III with the Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

Guest emcee for the event was Freeport City Councilwoman and West Florida RPC Chairperson, Kasey Cuchens.