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CareerSource Florida Crown Consolidation Debacle Continues: Light At the End of the Tunnel

Photo of swordsman with headline: Folks are working out their differences
Photo: Tima Miroshinchenko via Pexels | Columbia County Observer graphic

ALACHUA, FL – On Friday, June 21, 2024, CareerSource North Central Florida (CSNCFL) met with members of the Alachua County Commission to discuss the progress of the state-mandated consolidation of the CareerSource workforce boards of Region 9 (Alachua, Bradford) with Region 7 (Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Union). There was some light at the end of the consolidation tunnel.


In 2021, The Florida Legislature passed House Bill 1507, establishing the Reimagining Education and Career Help (REACH) Act. On June 24, 2021, Governor DeSantis signed the REACH Act into law.

The REACH Act did many things; one required consolidating some CareerSource regions in Florida. One of the consolidations was the combining of CareerSource Florida Crown (CSFC-Region 7) into CareerSource North Central Florida (CSNCFL-Region 9).

See related story: CareerSource Florida Crown: Alachua County Says 'No' To Providing a Life Ring

The combined CSNCFL region will be known as Region 26.

This is the last region to still be at odds about the consolidation. While Alachua County began working on the consolidation last year, FL Crown dragged its feet and didn’t begin taking the consolidation seriously until May of this year.


Alachua County Commissioner Mary Alford
Alachua County Commission Chairwoman Mary Alford (file)

On June 21, 2024, Alachua County Commission Chairwoman Mary Alford called the North Central Florida Workforce Development Board Dual County Workforce Development Council joint meeting to order.

Unlike the goings on in Columbia County, where meeting decorum of the County’s infamous County 5 or its subservient boards can degenerate into a barfight with meetings having Commissioners talking all over each other, making side comments, being rude, and generally never being recognized before speaking, Alachua County meetings are polite, easy to follow, and have audio that actually works if viewed online.

Additionally, something you never see during a virtually accessible meeting in Columbia County, the Chair welcomes public comments from its virtual viewers.

Those in Columbia County and the rest of the region will be able to have their voices heard in real time if they are willing to spend the time. They will find the Alachua County Commissioners, the CareerSource Board, and CSNCFL willing to listen.

Issues Affecting Florida Crown (Region 7)

Gilchrist County Commissioner Sharon Langford
Consortium Chair and Gilchrist County Commissioner Sharon Langford. (file)

A big concern in the region was the continuation of the one-stop centers in the smaller counties. Florida Crown Consortium Chair Sharon Langford of Gilchrist County was particularly concerned about the One-Stop center in Old Town. CSNCFL has renegotiated a lease for the Old Town location, and services will continue to be provided.

There was concern in Columbia County about services being provided at the present FL Crown location.

CSNCFL is in the process of renegotiating the lease with the Lake City FL Crown shopping plaza location landlord, and the services provided by FL Crown, once combined with Alachua County on July 1, will continue to be provided.

The only difference will be that the rent will be decreased for the use of a smaller space, leaving more money for services. FL Crown’s mismanagement of the lease resulted in unnecessary FL Crown funds being spent on rent rather than services to help those who needed help.

The Interlocal Agreement (ILA): One of the last stumbling blocks

In order for the regions to come together, there needs to be an agreement between all of the counties involved: Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, and Union. This is called an Interlocal Agreement or ILA.

The Florida Crown region (Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, and Union) needed to work out an agreement with Alachua and Bradford counties (the CSNCFL region).

This has not been easy, but it is getting closer.

Alachua County, Region 9, was never really approached by FL Crown to work out an agreement, and both regions, seven and nine, ended up producing their own interlocals.

During the June 21 meeting, CSNCFL Attorney Rochelle Daniels took exception to many points in the FL Crown Region 7 version of the ILA and commented. "We have been working very closely with the state on the interlocal agreement, and they have looked at our version and found it to be compliant with the law.”

Attorney Daniels explained that the attorney for Region 7 (FL Crown) has drafted a different inter-local agreement, and it is in the process of being approved by the Region 7 Counties.

Attorney Daniels elaborated, “It is very different from the agreement that we have been working on for months with the state and with the mediator.”

The mediator(s) are Vantage Partners and Earnst & Young, hired by Florida to work on the consolidation. CareerSource Florida (Garrek Wright) and FloridaCommerce are also involved.

All the mediators have been involved with both sides, i.e., FL Crown and CareerSource North Central Florida.

Attorney Daniels told the meeting attendees that the proposed Region 7 ILA does not recognize Alachua as the administrative entity or the fiscal agent, adding that it does not assign liability amongst the various counties as is required under the statute. “Instead, it doesn't really address liability at all, and it wants to delete language.”

The Region 7 draft version of the ILA states among the following about liability: “Nothing in this Agreement is intended to assume, assign, effect, eliminate or transfer any liability regarding grant funds awarded to either of those prior two local workforce development areas to the new NCFWDA [North Central Florida Workforce Development Area]; and each county shall remain liable for its share of liability, if any, for grant funds awarded to the prior local workforce development area to which it was a member.”

Looking forward past the consolidation, the Region 7 version of the agreement defers to the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (federal) and the Workforce Innovation Act (state) when it comes to assigning liability.

The Region 7 ILA gave its take on financial responsibility in its version, “The Board of County Commissioners of each of the Counties, as the CLEO [Chief Local Elected Official], is not relieved of liability for the misuse of grant funds by the designation of CSNCF as sub-grantee and Fiscal Agent as provided herein.”

The Region 7 ILA said the counties would not be responsible for the misuse of funds by CSNCFL, and CSNCFL "shall indemnify" the other counties against the wrongdoing of CSNCFL, aka Alachua County.

Alachua County does not see it that way.

So far, unless Region 7 and Region 9 can agree, higher powers will decide.

The Last Thing:  Meeting Notice

Florida Crown, sometimes with the blessing of its attorney, Guy Norris, ignores the notice requirements of the Florida Statutes, specifically FL Stat. 189.015, which gives the legal requirements for noticing special district meetings. Meeting notice is an endemic problem in North Central Florida, the land of “Nobody tells us what to do.”

As demonstrated by the recent actions of both CareerSource Florida and FloridaCommerce, neither one of those state agencies cares if Florida Crown abides by the notice requirements of the law.

Alachua County is running CareerSource North Central Florida as a department of the County. Its ILA mentions only the requirements of FL stat. 286, which provides minimal notice requirements.

Alachua County, now that it is going to be the leader of the new region, which adds four additional counties to its footprint, should consider, at least for the purpose of meeting notice, abiding by the special district notice requirements so that the residents of the new six-county region have the benefit of the 7-day enhanced public notice requirements allowed by the law for special districts.

Alachua County can call the eventual new region a department, but it is like painting the word “horse” on the side of an elephant. Everybody knows what it is.


Alachua County, which is clearly the lead in the consolidation, needs to produce an organizational chart for the new region and incorporate it into its CareerSource website, which is woefully inadequate.

CareerSource stuff is really complicated. The consolidation is complicated. An organizational chart would help people understand who to contact and what each agency’s responsibilities are.

An organizational chart may also help the folks who need CareerSource services and who are often forgotten or treated rudely or unkindly.

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