(1) The Rural Community Development Revolving Loan Fund Program is established within the department to facilitate the use of existing federal, state, and local financial resources by providing local governments with financial assistance to further promote the economic viability of rural communities. These funds may be used to finance initiatives directed toward maintaining or developing the economic base of rural communities, especially initiatives addressing employment opportunities for residents of these communities.
(2)1(a) The program shall provide for long-term loans, loan guarantees, and loan loss reserves to units of local governments, or economic development organizations substantially underwritten by a unit of local government, within counties with populations of 75,000 or fewer, or within any county with a population of 125,000 or fewer which is contiguous to a county with a population of 75,000 or fewer, based on the most recent official population estimate as determined under s. 186.901, including those residing in incorporated areas and those residing in unincorporated areas of the county, or to units of local government, or economic development organizations substantially underwritten by a unit of local government, within a rural area of opportunity.
(b) Requests for loans shall be made by application to the department. Loans shall be made pursuant to agreements specifying the terms and conditions agreed to between the applicant and the department. The loans shall be the legal obligations of the applicant.
1(c) All repayments of principal and interest shall be returned to the loan fund and made available for loans to other applicants. However, in a rural area of opportunity designated by the Governor, and upon approval by the department, repayments of principal and interest may be retained by the applicant if such repayments are dedicated and matched to fund regionally based economic development organizations representing the rural area of opportunity.
(3) The department shall manage the fund, establishing loan practices that must include, but are not limited to, procedures for establishing loan interest rates, uses of funding, application procedures, and application review procedures. The department shall have final approval authority for any loan under this section.
(4) Notwithstanding the provisions of s. 216.301, funds appropriated for this purpose shall not be subject to reversion. 1Note.—Section 56, ch. 2014-218, provides that:
“(1) The executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity is authorized, and all conditions are deemed to be met, to adopt emergency rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54(4), Florida Statutes, for the purpose of implementing this act.
“(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the emergency rules adopted pursuant to subsection (1) remain in effect for 6 months after adoption and may be renewed during the pendency of procedures to adopt permanent rules addressing the subject of the emergency rules.
“(3) This section shall expire October 1, 2015.”