(1) As used in this section, the term “rural community” means:
(a) A county with a population of 75,000 or fewer.
(b) A county with a population of 125,000 or fewer which is contiguous to a county with a population of 75,000 or fewer.
(c) A municipality within a county described in paragraph (a) or paragraph (b).
For purposes of this subsection, population shall be determined in accordance with the most recent official estimate pursuant to s. 186.901.
(2) The department may accept and administer moneys appropriated to the department for providing grants to assist rural communities to develop and implement strategic economic development plans.
(3) A rural community, an economic development organization in a rural area, or a regional organization representing at least one rural community or such economic development organizations may apply for such grants.
(4) The department shall establish criteria for reviewing grant applications. These criteria shall include, but are not limited to, the degree of participation and commitment by the local community and the application’s consistency with local comprehensive plans or the application’s proposal to ensure such consistency. The department shall review each application for a grant. The department may approve grants only to the extent that funds are appropriated for such grants by the Legislature.