Profile: East Central Florida Brownfield Champion

Luis Nieves-Ruiz, Economic Development Manager

East Central Florida Regional Planning Council



My main role is to be a liaison between the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and public/ private partners from across the six county East Central Florida region. I coordinate the implementation of the Community Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), the region’s economic development plan. The Council was recently awarded a three-year EDA partnership planning grant that will help me overhaul the current CEDS document and continue to develop partnerships that further economic development across the region. My position also requires me to provide economic technical assistance to local governments within the region including developing economic models, and applying for grants. I have used the REMI model to calculate the economic impact of infrastructure projects, public services, and private organizations. I have been awarded $65,000 to write economic strategic plans for the cities of DeBary and Lake Helen. I also wrote the economic development plan for the South Lake Dora Shore area in Tavares. The Council also recently partnered with Energy Florida and the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council to prepare the Florida Turbine Initiative, a proposal for the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Program. This initiative seeks to develop Florida’s nascent gas turbine and rotating machinery industry cluster. My main role was to identify the companies that comprise the turbine cluster within the ten-county area. My current goal is to position the Council as the economic development think thank for the East Central Florida region. As part of this process, I am currently leading an industry cluster study of the East Central Florida region. The study will provide an historic overview of the of East Central Florida’s economy, find both regional and county industry agglomerations, and provide a series of strategies to develop them.

Leveraging Funding Opportunities

Through the past eight years, the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council (ECFRPC) has assisted communities to identify funding sources to provide technical services. Below are some of the most popular grant programs:

Community Planning Technical Assistance Grants (CPTA): The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (CPTA) grants assist local governments with the development of innovative plans and strategies that promote a diverse economy, develop vibrant rural and suburban areas, and plan for resilient communities. The ECFRPC has assisted local communities in getting over $300K of these grants to pay for a variety of projects including planning for parks and regional trails, downtown master plans, and regional food systems projects.

Florida Resilient Coastlines Program: Sponsored by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, this program funds projects that prepare Florida’s coastal communities for current and future effects of rising sea levels, including coastal flooding, erosion and ecosystem changes. Because of the ECFRPC, local communities have been awarded over $500k in funding from this program.

U.S Economic Development Administration (EDA): The federal government’s lead economic development agency, EDA provides grants that helps prepare regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. As the region’s Economic Development District, the ECFRPC provides a variety of technical assistance services to local communities including economic impact analyses, grant writing, and strategic planning projects. Since 2011, local governments and organizations have been awarded more than $9.5 million in EDA public infrastructure and economic adjustment grants.