Last week Gov. Jeb Bush took an ax to the state budget, cutting a record-setting $200 million in special projects. One project that escaped the cuts is a new prison in Graceville, providing up to 500 new jobs.
The appropriations are the finale to the campaign that started 10 years ago. Graceville has an outlet mall, a work camp and a returning lumber company, but in terms of jobs, it has very little else.
City manager Eugene Adams is hoping a new state prison promising 500 new jobs will change that.
"In a town as small as ours with 2500 people in it, feels every job gained or lost. I don't recall a situation in my lifetime where Graceville looked at the impact of 500 jobs on this town," says Eugene Adams, Graceville City Manager.
Official word of the privately-run state prison came on Friday with the governor's signing of the budget, but Adams and other current and former city leaders have been dreaming about it for ten years now.
In the early 90's, some Graceville residents objected to having another prison in their backyard, but times have changed and Graceville's slow economic growth has people thinking differently.
Store owner Donald Rogers says the prison keep people in town and near his business.
"People have to drive out of town to get a job. Usually that's where they're going to spend their money is out of town," says Donald.
The new prison will be located next to Graceville's Work Camp. Construction is scheduled to be completed by June 2006. This will be the first new privately run prison approved by the state in nearly seven years.