By Team

EUSTIS (CBSMiami/NSF) — The need for truckers is growing so immensely, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that the state will spend $6 million from its Job Growth Grant Fund to bolster transportation-related training programs at Lake Technical College.

Currently, the Central Florida college provides training for 16 students a semester in programs that include diesel and auto mechanics, forklift operators and auto collision specialists. The funding will expand the program to 48 students a semester, DeSantis said.

DeSantis has discretion to use the Job Growth Grant Fund, which received $50 million in the current fiscal year from state lawmakers, for infrastructure and workforce projects.

Before Friday’s announcement, DeSantis distributed a total of $22.69 million this month in grants for water and wastewater work in North Port and St. Pete Beach; for improving vehicle access to the Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center in Winter Haven and the Gov. Rick Scott Industrial Park in Sumter County; for a diesel-mechanic training program at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville; for manufacturing, education, health-care and aviation vocational programs at Pasco-Hernando State College; and for expanding Collier County-based Immokalee Technical College into Glades County.

Appearing Friday at Lake Technical College’s Eustis campus, DeSantis pointed to a need to boost trucking and other parts of the transportation industry amid cargo bottlenecks in the country.

He has tried to attract shipping firms to send goods to Florida ports as ships stack up off southern California ports.

“Once the goods come though, that we have the ability to get them out to consumers and businesses using a variety of ways, you know, including rail, but also with the trucking, and we need to make sure that we have folks that are going to be able to fill those positions,” DeSantis said.

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