Pensacola, Florida
Sunday December 17th 2017

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Outtakes—Good News-Bad News

By Rick Outzen

Last week brought some good news. A local non-profit is set to become a difference maker yet again for area charities, and lawmakers brought home the bacon from Tallahassee.

IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area, a local women’s philanthropy group, announced that it set a new membership record, signing up 1,082 women. With each member contributing $1,000, the organization will award later this year 10 high-impact project grants of $108,200 each to nonprofit agencies in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.  Over the past 13 years, IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area has funded 77 grants, totaling $8.318 million.

Our state lawmakers included in the state budget funds for several local projects. The City of Pensacola will receive $750,000 for storm water retention for IHMC’s new building and $1 million for the airport’s commerce park. Pensacola State College and the University of West Florida will receive $18.7 million for new buildings, and the National Flight Academy will get $2.42 million.

On the bad news side, our community’s poverty bit us in the butt, yet again.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Gov. Rick Scott’s request for an emergency declaration as a result of the February 2016 tornadoes and severe weather. FEMA determined that the damage did not meet the severity to receive supplemental federal assistance for Public Assistance or aid to local governments. Sadly, the value of the losses in Century didn’t meet the minimum threshold. Once again, the poor got hurt because of their poverty.

The Partnership for a Healthy Community released the 2016 County Health Rankings report by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The partnership has studied our health factors and outcomes since 1995, releasing reports in 2000, 2005, 2012 and this year.

In a state that does poorly, Escambia County ranked 59 out 67 counties in Health Outcomes and 43 in Health Factors. Santa Rosa County performed better with an 8 in Health Outcomes and 17 in Health Factors. However, Santa Rosa County’s Health Factor ranking has declined steadily from 12 (2013) to 14 (2014) and now 17.

Out of the 167 indicators, Escambia County performed worse than the state in 98 of them. About half of them, 54 indicators, showed a worsening trend. Santa Rosa County performed worse than the state in 73 of them. Similarly, about half of them, 38 indicators, showed a worsening trend. Poverty is at the root of many of our health problems.

Thanks to IMPACT 100 and the ability of our state lawmakers to find funding for education, health, infrastructure and job creation, we have a shot of turning this community around.