White House, Washington D.C., October 19, 2023 — In a landmark event, the White House hosted the “Communities in Action: Building a Better Florida” summit on Thursday, October 19, 2023. This gathering was part of a series showcasing local elected officials and community leaders who had actively worked to enhance opportunities and improve the lives of Floridians. The meeting highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s investments and impacts across the state.

White House Hosts Communities in Action Summit
Ricky Ly at the White House

Distinguished officials present at the event included Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation; Mitch Landrieu, Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator; Steve Benjamin, Director of the Office of Public Engagement; Neera Tanden, Director of the Domestic Policy Council; Brenda Mallory, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality; Rob Wilcox, Deputy Director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention; Tom Perez, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs; and Gretchen Sierra-Zorita, Director for Puerto Rico and the Territories for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

The Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy and climate provisions had already made a significant impact in Florida, creating over 170,000 clean energy jobs, attracting over $110 billion in clean energy manufacturing investments, and delivering vital funds to protect communities from climate change. The law had also capped insulin costs at $35 per month for millions of seniors, providing substantial relief.

President Biden also recently announced the establishment of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to reduce gun violence, which has ravaged communities across the country, and implement and expand upon key executive and legislative action which has been taken to save lives.

White House Hosts Communities in Action Summit
US Congressman Maxwell Frost of Orlando with Ricky Ly at his office in Washington DC
White House Hosts Communities in Action Summit
Ricky Ly with Florida State Representative Anna Eskamani

During the summit, local community activists as well as local city and county mayors spoke about the impact on their communities from the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). These included union workers with access to well-paying jobs in wind, solar, and construction; farmers leading in climate-smart agriculture practices; and business owners making clean energy investments.

Orlando resident Ricky Ly attended, a board member of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Coming Together (ACT Florida). ACT (Asian American Pacific Islanders Coming Together) is an organization committed to fostering unity, understanding, and empowerment within the AAPI community. Through various initiatives, ACT advocates for the rights and well-being of AAPI individuals, creating a platform for collaboration and positive change.

Ly, a local food writer and civil engineer, expressed his honor at having been invited to speak at the White House. As the child of Vietnamese/Chinese refugees, he addressed the White House on crucial issues such as fighting hunger, inflation, supporting immigration for refugees, combating hate crimes against the AAPI community, and backing small businesses. According to the United Way, 45% of Floridians are just one pay check away or emergency from homelessness.

White House Hosts Communities in Action Summit
Tom Perez, Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs speaking with the Florida delegation

The summit also shed light on the Biden-Harris Administration’s swift implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, delivering substantial results for Florida. To date, $14 billion in funding had been announced for 389 specific projects, spanning transportation, clean water, and high-speed internet connectivity.

For transportation, Florida was set to receive approximately $13.3 billion over five years, targeting 455 bridges and over 3,144 miles of highway in poor condition. Public transit investment, the largest in U.S. history, was expected to reach $2.8 billion over five years in Florida, enhancing sustainable transportation options.

White House Hosts Communities in Action Summit

The Inflation Reduction Act, hailed as the most significant legislation to combat climate change, would upgrade affordable housing and strengthen America’s forests. In Florida, tens of thousands of affordable housing units were eligible for upgrades, including flood-proofing, storm resistance, and clean energy initiatives.

As the summit progressed, the Biden-Harris Administration communicated the importance of making lasting investments that would not only improve the lives of Floridians but also contribute to the state’s overall success in the years to come.

White House Hosts Communities in Action Summit