Governor’s Welcomed Visit To Nassau, Funding For Clean Water Supply Plant

Florida’s Governor awarded $4 million to Town of Callahan officials via the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.

Money to help pay for water plant at Crawford Diamond Industrial Park

Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.

— Steve’s Marketplace —

The normal morning bustle at The Pig Bar-B-Q restaurant had a little more hustle Monday, June 20, 2022. After all, it’s not every day that the governor and his entourage come to town. 

And on this special day, Gov. Ron DeSantis had a lot of cash in his stash. It was a tasty $4 million, which he presented to Callahan town officials in a demonstrably oversized check. The money will help pay for a water plant at the Crawford Diamond Industrial Park. 

“There’s businesses that are very interested in coming to this particular industrial park in Callahan,” DeSantis said, standing behind a podium in a side room of the popular restaurant. “And the fact that we’re able to do this, I think it’s going to make it that much more attractive.” 

Political representatives from various jurisdictions appeared with DeSantis. Local state Sen. Aaron Bean led DeSantis into the room. Bean is the frontrunner for a new U.S. representative seat in Northeast Florida. Candidates for various Nassau County seats also maneuvered behind DeSantis. 

A throng of Jacksonville-area media also packed into a tight space, with questions unrelated to why DeSantis was there. Instead of inquiring about economic development in Northeast Florida, the questions focused on controversial topics. Like yet another scrap between DeSantis and the Biden administration. 

DeSantis is opposing federal guidelines recommending Covid-19 vaccines for children under five years of age. The Florida Department of Health has refused to order any of the vaccines – and the Biden administration says DeSantis has reversed course in his decision, alluding for political reasons.

 “The White House is lying about it,” DeSantis said. “Not surprised that the White House would lie. Definitely not surprised that legacy media would amplify the lie, because that’s what they do.” 

DeSantis said the decision for vaccinating young children should be between parents and their doctors, and not be dictated by government officials. Parental rights have taken precedence under DeSantis. 

“We are following the data” on the vaccines, DeSantis said. “We still have not ordered it. We’re not going to order it.” However, hospitals and healthcare providers in Florida can acquire and administer these vaccines, at their discretion. 

DeSantis was not there to talk about vaccines, even though the question was posed. He was there to support the Crawford Diamond and the potential impact it could have on Nassau County. 

“There are businesses that are very interested in coming to this particular industrial park in Callahan,” DeSantis said. “The town of Callahan and the Crawford Diamond Industrial Park, we believe, are primed to bring more jobs to the area for the people of Nassau County. 

“We don’t need to tell anybody up in Nassau County that this part of the state is growing,” he continued. “This is the place people want to be …” 

The state grant (along with matching federal funds) could have a combined $25 million economic impact, with thousands of new jobs, according to officials. The competition for economic grants the size of $4 million is fierce among counties in the state. The fact that the Crawford Diamond received these proceeds reflects its vibrant economic potential. 

Another local official who spoke was Aundra Wallace, the president of JAXUSA Partnership, a regional economic development agency that serves Northeast Florida.  

“Since the beginning of 2020, the seven-county region of Northeast Florida has seen unprecedented growth,” Wallace said. “And so, governor, thank you for this particular grant. And we look forward to coming back here to announce new jobs coming to Callahan.” 

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Steve Nicklas is a financial adviser with a regional brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns also regularly appear in several weekly newspapers in North Florida and in Southeast Georgia, and on his website at SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected])