UWF to provide local businesses with millions


Lexi Miller, Staff Writer

UWF plans to distribute $10 million to local businesses through the Industry Resilience and Diversification Fund (IRDF).

The program is accepting applications from local companies to assist in creating jobs for the community.  

“Given the global economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that UWF should reopen this economic development program to help the citizens and communities of Northwest Florida,” Dr. Donnovan Chau said. 

The program was first developed as a $30 million program after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Counties that are currently eligible for funding include Bay, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla and Walton. There is approximately $10 million in funding that remains from the initial launch of the program.  

The program will create a contract for applicants based on the goals of the company and establish a plan to help them create more jobs. Each project has a cap of $2 million and will be required to create a minimum of ten jobs with a required return on investment of $1.50 per ever funded dollar.

In the past, the program previously known as the Industry Recruitment, Retention and Expansion Fund made great economic impacts on the local community. Past recipients include Pensacola International Airport, Navy Federal Credit Union, St Aerospace and International Paper. With the help of the program, each of these was able to create hundreds of jobs across the counties, with Navy Federal projected to create over 9,000 jobs by 2030.   

The University hopes that this program will stimulate well-paying jobs that will continue to impact Northwest Florida for years to come. 

“While the program takes tremendous time and effort to manage and administer, UWF believes it can make a positive, lasting economic impact in Northwest Florida in these challenging times, now and in the future,” Dr. Chau said.

For more information on the IRDF and how to apply visit, uwf.edu/irdf