During his more than four decades in Congress, C.W. Bill Young has earned a reputation for bringing home the bacon, whether it's for million-dollar construction projects or local children's programs.
Young touts his efforts to ease congestion along U.S. 19, attract high-tech jobs to St. Petersburg, improve health care for low-income children and families, protect MacDill Air Force Base, build a state-of-the-art hospital for veterans at Bay Pines VA Medical Center, ensure a steady supply of water for the Tampa Bay area and offset the effects of erosion on Pinellas County beaches.
In a career defined by the earmarks the longtime Republican has secured for his district, here are a few of the projects that stand out:
• Young secured $21 million in federal funding for MacDill that was key in opening a new headquarters for U.S. Central Command in November 2011. The total cost of the project was $83 million.
• In the early-2000s, Young and former Pinellas County Commissioner Chuck Rainey played key rolls in redeveloping an abandoned defense contracting plant on Bryan Dairy Road in Largo into a business center that targets high-tech industries. Today, more than 1,500 people work at the 2.6-million-square-foot Young-Rainey STAR Center
• Young has secured billions of dollars in funding for defense contractors based in Pinellas County, such as Raytheon, Honeywell and Draper Labs.
It may come at no surprise that the C.W. Bill Young Hall at the University of South Florida's Tampa campus and the C.W. Bill Young Marine Science Complex at USF St. Petersburg came about thanks to substantial help from the representative. Additionally, Young has sponsored multiple defense programs at USF and has delivered more than $16.6 million in federal funding since 2008.
• Since 2008, St. Petersburg College has benefited from more than $15,8 million in federal funding for health care programs, training programs for an antidrug task force and the development of a National Terrorism Preparedness Institute.
• Stetson University College of Law's National Clearing House for Science, Technology and the Law in Gulfport has received about $1 million in federal funding since 2008, and the Eckerd College Science Center in St. Petersburg received nearly $2 million.
One of Young's biggest contributions has been finding federal funding to ease transportation issues throughout the Tampa Bay area. He secured federal funding to rebuild the Sunshine Skyway after the old bridge collapsed in 1980, and he secured money to rebuild and expand U.S. 19 and put more buses on St. Petersburg's Central Avenue.
Young has spearheaded many road reconstruction projects throughout Pinellas, more recently supplying $175,750 in federal funding to update Blind Pass Road in St. Pete Beach and more than $1.7 million for the 118th Avenue Expressway. In 2009, he secured $500,000 for St. Petersburg's City Bicycle Trails
In 2009, Young secured millions of dollars in federal funding to build a new medical facility for Bay Pines VA Medical Center. The following year, he helped secure $1 million to harden local hospitals against hurricanes and other weather emergencies. He also delivered $6 million to fund the National Functional Genomics Center at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.
In 2012, Young and other Florida leaders were key in pushing through $142 million for restoring the Everglades and the Kissimmee River, and he has been a vocal advocate for beach restoration projects throughout the state.
Young landed $57 million in federal funding to help build the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, which holds 15.5 billion gallons of water from the Alafia and Hillsborough rivers and serves Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.
He also secured about $14 million for sustainable energy projects in St. Petersburg, including a $2.4 million federal grant to install solar panels at 18 of the city's parks and recreational sites.
Young's long tenure in office has benefitted local law enforcement and social agencies over the years, which have enjoyed millions of dollars in federal funds to create programs for at-risk youth, upgrade identification systems and buy antiterrorism equipment. Significant projects have included:
• $3.5 million for software that allows Pinellas County sheriff's deputies to compare suspects' photos against a national database of mug shots
• More than $4.1 million for counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and criminal intelligence programs
• $300,000 for a Clearwater substance abuse treatment initiative and $300,000 for the Pinellas County At-Risk Youth Diversion Prevention Project
Young has looked out for family while in Congress. He has, for example, arranged for millions in federal funding for the employers of two of his sons in Pinellas County, though Young has repeatedly said the projects were funded based on merit, not nepotism.
From 2004 to 2010, Young directed about $47 million in contracts to defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. Son Patrick Young, 25, works at SAIC's office in downtown St. Petersburg.
The National Forensic Science Technology Center in Seminole, where 28-year-old Billy Young works as the business development director, has won nearly $34 million in federal contracts since 1999, thanks to the congressman.