State DEO Has Designated Century As A ‘Rural Community’. Here’s Why That’s A Big Deal.

July 27, 2022

The Town of Century has been designated by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) as a “Rural Community”.

The designation makes Century eligible to have matching fund requirements waived for DEO programs and grants.

“The partnership of (DEO) Secretary Dane Eagle with this project and the awarding of millions of dollars for community centers in the town shows the commitment to revitalization of the area,” Rep. Michelle Salzman said. In April, Gov. Ron Desantis awarded Century a $3.255 million grant to renovate two community centers.

Salzman, Century Mayor Ben Boutwell, FloridaWest, First Place Partners, DEO and other leaders worked over a year to obtain the designation.

Sometimes Century may be eligible for a grant, but meeting a financial match requirement might be difficult, Boutwell said, adding that the designation is a big deal for the small town.

“This helps us out with grants,” Boutwell said. “Now that we have this Rural Community designation, we don’t have to worry about matching 10-50%. Now we can go after grants with no payback; that will make it much easier for us as a Rural Community.”

“Century is always in competition with Alabama, and Alabama is going to write a check, and Northwest Florida is going to lose out,” said consultant Dave Murzin of First Place Partners. “This a huge chance for economic development in Century, combined with state and federal resources and their commerce park.

“The commerce park is very nice. Century needs to focus on I-65, north-south logistics. They have a bunch of land, why not go after a company, a public-private partnership, to build a spec building.”

Century was able to obtain the Rural Community designation by having an agricultural related employment base, a population of less than 25,000 and three qualifying economic distress levels. Those factors are a high poverty rate, lower educational level attainment, and below average household median income, Murzin said.

Salzman offered her thanks to Eagle and his staff, FloridaWest and First Place Partners “for all the amazing work they put into this year-long project.” as she works to prioritize more projects in the northern park of Florida House District 1.

“I am so pleased we were able to bring together a great partnership of community efforts to accomplish this amazing designation for the Town of Century,” Salzman said. “This is collaboration in action.”


7 Responses to “State DEO Has Designated Century As A ‘Rural Community’. Here’s Why That’s A Big Deal.”

  1. Not blind anymore on July 29th, 2022 3:06 pm

    Stop spending money on things that the town doesn’t need. Spend money on something that will approve the town

  2. RaD on July 27th, 2022 2:32 pm

    Great job but is it to little, to late?
    I still believe the best path forward is revoking the charter and returning to county rule.

  3. Citizen on July 27th, 2022 10:45 am

    Good job Mayor Boutwell and representative Saltzman. True. The industrial park is full of potential.

  4. CJ Lewis on July 27th, 2022 10:36 am

    The sign in front of Century’s Town Hall still reads “City of Century” and “City Hall.” In 2009, Mayor McCall told me that the city was “broke” and couldn’t afford to correct the error made by a contractor many years ago. Maybe Century can get a grant to fix it.

  5. joy on July 27th, 2022 7:27 am

    the people in charge of Century have no idea what they are doing- it looks to me as if that is throwing money away -again

  6. SW on July 27th, 2022 6:51 am

    Throwing good money after bad at the failed town.

  7. Common Sense on July 27th, 2022 4:32 am

    Good job mayor!

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