Flagler County Awarded $4 million for ‘Nexus Center’

Flagler County Awarded $4 million for ‘Nexus Center’

Flagler County has received $4 million from the state of Florida for its “Nexus Center” project, according to a media release. The Center will be a multi-purpose facility to house both a new library and the county’s Health and Human Services Department.

“We are thrilled by this announcement,” said County Administrator Heidi Petito, in the release. “This is huge for Flagler County. We are extremely grateful to have been awarded this money by Gov. DeSantis.”

Flagler County’s award comes through the Multipurpose Facility Program that was designed to support community infrastructure projects that will provide internet access, according to the release. This funding comes as the Federal Communications Commission recently enacted new rules relating to private companies’ broadband expansion efforts, aimed at preventing “digital discrimination of access to broadband services based on income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion or national origin.”

“Connecting Florida’s small and rural communities to broadband internet will help them find jobs, access education resources and expand their businesses,” DeSantis said in the announcement of the funding. “We will continue to make investments in broadband internet that support long-term growth for our communities, without federally imposed strings attached.”

Chief of Special Projects and Library Director Holly Albanese heard about the federal $4 million grant application opportunity in June 2023 from State Librarian Amy Johnson and worked diligently to prepare the application for October.

“It was a very complex grant with lots of requirements,” Albanese said in the release. “It is the most difficult grant application I have submitted.”

Albanese made a presentation for the Nexus Center to county commissioners more than two years ago that will provide expanded space for the Bunnell Branch Library, the Health and Human Services Department, a congregate meal site for seniors, and community rooms., the release states The building will sit on county-owned property on Commerce Parkway near the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office headquarters.

“We revised the scope of the project from just a library to a library, a Health and Human Services Department, and a community room,” Albanese said in the release. “It appears that was a good decision because it made us eligible for these funds. This announcement made my day. It’s a big win for our community.”

Flagler County has another $9.6 million earmarked for this project, and another $1 million in revenue from the Library’s Passport Program. The county also secured a $500,000 state grant last year.