Economic development fund depleted? Not so fast

What if we told you that the $10 million in Blueprint funding for repairs to FAMU’s Bragg Stadium and the $20 million for FSU’s Doak Campbell Stadium didn’t deplete the Blueprint economic development fund after all?

Don’t you think that would be important information?

You remember the narrative, right? Stadium funding means our economic development fund will be down to nothing.

We saw headlines like this:

And quotes like this, from Commissioner Kristin Dozier:

“The point is, we won’t have any money left to do what we promised the community we’d do when we voted on the referendum in ‘14,” Dozier said. “This money was supposed to go toward job creation. To do things in our community that we’ve never had the funds to do before. If we set aside this fund and give it to FSU, we will be left with $722,000 for the next 7 years and a mere 13 million for the 12 years after that. It will not be enough to meet our promise to our community.”

Or like this, from NAACP president Mutaqee Akbar.

Guess what? None of that ended up being true.

The economic development fund isn’t depleted. In fact, Blueprint officials were clear about the probability that once the economy strengthened, sales tax revenue projections would be increased.

That has happened, as announced at the most recent Blueprint meeting.

So, of the almost $14 million available through the end of the taxing period in the “future opportunity leveraging fund” and the “competitive project fund,” how much more do we now project to have? One million dollars? $2 million?

How about – double what we had before.

That’s right, instead of just under $14 million for economic development, it’s now $28,073,345.

Source: Blueprint Financial Report, May 2022

Instead of $722,000 for the next 7 years, as Dozier intoned, we will have well over three times that much — just under $2.6 million.

And remember, this is money Leon County has at its disposal for the first time in its 198-year history. One has to wonder how we survived this long without it.

But, as they say, that’s not all.

Remember the endless calls, over the past months, to delay a wide array of Blueprint projects?

Thankfully, our city and county administrators Reese Goad and Vince Long, as well as PLACE Director Ben Pingree resisted those calls.

As a result of passing bonding earlier this year, they have already saved $10,111,658 million simply by acting now and locking in lower interest rates.

Source: Blueprint Financial Analysis

This is huge, positive news that severely undercuts the argument that Doak left our economic development fund depleted.

The “against everything” crowd needs to understand that sometimes delays cost money. This is a case where if inaction has prevailed, it would have cost our community $10 million.

Unfortunately, in a political season, good news isn’t always celebrated or highlighted if it doesn’t help someone’s campaign.

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