TALLAHASSEE – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the 2012-13 Florida Defense Support Task Force Grants. The grants, totaling $2.6 million, have been awarded to ten projects that serve to protect military installations and grow jobs and opportunities across the state.
Governor Scott said, “The military has a strong presence in Florida, which means jobs and opportunities for Florida families. With numerous bases across Florida, nearly 100,000 men and women who serve in active and reserve duty are living in the Sunshine State. These $2.6 million in grants will enhance relationships between Florida communities and the military, to ensure we’re doing the best job possible in working with our nation’s armed services.”
The 2012-13 Florida Defense Support Task Force Grants were awarded to the Bay County Defense Alliance, National Simulation Center in Orlando, Highlands County EDC, City of Jacksonville, Tampa Bay Defense Alliance, Santa Rosa County, the Greater Pensacola Chamber, the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze and the Florida 8 (a) Alliance in Jacksonville. These grants will be utilized to protect, preserve and enhance Florida’s military missions and installations while maintaining Florida’s reputation as the most military friendly state in the Nation.
Additionally, these grants will strengthen Florida’s bases ahead of any potential Department of Defense realignment or closure actions, thereby protecting over $60 billion in economic impact, and the over 686,181 jobs that the defense industry annually brings to Florida.
Gray Swoope, Secretary of Commerce and president & CEO of Enterprise Florida, said, “Enterprise Florida, through its work with the Florida Defense Task Force, is committed to supporting the military sector in our state,” said Gray Swoope, Secretary of Commerce and president & CEO of Enterprise Florida. “Military and defense has an incredible economic impact in Florida and these grants will help to keep that important funding in our state.”
Northwest Florida will receive four grants totaling $1.135 million. The funding will allow local communities to protect local military installations.
Governor Scott said, “The Florida Panhandle is vital to America’s national security – and we’re committed to supporting the families and communities who serve. To grow and protect jobs and opportunities for Florida families, we’re investing $1.1 million in Military Taskforce grant funding to buffer our bases, support research and development operations, and support our wounded warriors.”
The Northwest Florida organizations receiving grants this year are:
- The Bay Defense Alliance in Panama City: $500,000 to assist in the acquisition of land to buffer Naval Support Activity Panama City from encroachment.
- The Greater Pensacola Chamber: $250,000 to establish a center of excellence for information dominance to stimulate science and technology research.
- The Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze: $225,000 to provide support for wounded special operations warriors in order to return them to active duty.
- The Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners: $160,000 to construct a fence to buffer Naval Air Station Whiting Field from the developing Whiting Aviation Park.
Senate President Don Gaetz, said, “These grants continue the tradition of Florida being the most military friendly state in the country with Northwest Florida as the most military-friendly area of our state. I was proud to sponsor the legislation to make today’s announcement a reality for the families and communities of Northwest Florida.”
Representative Jimmy Patronis said, “I applaud the Governor and the defense task force for awarding these grants and helping to protect Florida’s military bases and families. These funds will ensure that the base remains a vital component of our community.”
Tom Neubauer, president of the Bay County Defense Alliance (BDA), said, “Clearly, the Florida Defense Support Task Force, the legislature and the governor’s office understand the importance of Florida’s defense industry to the state’s our economy.
“Grant funds were strategically awarded to address the top priorities of defense communities like ours in their efforts to support our bases and their missions. While the Bay Defense Alliance remains focused on Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Support Activity Panama City, local BDA members partner with the state to ensure Florida is an excellent place for the Department of Defense to do business. We will continue to work together in support of the state’s reputation as the most defense-friendly in the nation.”
Alex Lincoln, vice president of the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, knows how critical these types of grants are to enhancing the quality of life for our military personnel. He said, “The Andrews Institute is honored to be awarded a grant by the Florida Defense Support Task Force. These Funds will continue to highlight Northwest Florida’s support for our nation’s military while preserving careers and upgrading the lives of wounded and injured special operations personnel.”
The City of Jacksonville will receive two grants totaling $450,000. The funding will allow Jacksonville officials to continue protecting local military installations by constructing an explosive ordinance disposal bunker at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base and establishing a maritime research and development capability at Naval Station Mayport. Additionally, the Florida 8 (a) Alliance, based in Jacksonville will receive $100,000 to assist veteran-owned and defense industry small businesses across Florida.
Governor Scott said, “These investments are critical to supporting military jobs and further establishing Jacksonville as a major hub for aircraft basing. This $450,000 investment will support the creation of a bunker for disposing of explosives, support research and development efforts and veteran-owned businesses for the Jacksonville community. No doubt, these projects make Jacksonville even more important for our nation’s military.
Representative Daniel Davis said, “These grants help protect our military bases from potential encroachment and other obstacles that may adversely affect them. I applaud Governor Scott and the defense task force for addressing this need.”
Representative Charles McBurney said, “The impact our military installations and personnel have on our state is huge. Nearly 700,000 military staff members live in Florida and $60 billion is inserted into our economy thanks to the military. I applaud the Governor and task force for helping to keep them here.”
Senator Aaron Bean said, “The Governor and defense task force should be commended for awarding these grants to our military bases and surrounding communities. This funding helps to protect the bases from potential encroachment and other obstacles that may adversely affect them. No doubt, this is a great win for the families of Northeast Florida.”
Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown said, “These grants represent a vote of confidence in the collaborative efforts between City Hall and the military and veterans community in Jacksonville. I’m pleased to work with Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Defense Support Task Force to enhance Jacksonville’s role as one of America’s great military and veteran cities. This is a remarkable opportunity not only to strengthen our part in national security, but promote jobs and economic development at both the local and state levels.”
Andy Harold, Founder/Board Chair for the Florida 8 (a) Alliance said, “This initiative will strengthen Florida’s defense industry by creating an avenue for new defense jobs, and bringing new technologies to the state by using the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program. It will establish a ‘gateway’ to coordinate statewide defense industry partnerships by training, mentoring, and connecting veteran and other small businesses with prime contractors and defense installations throughout the State of Florida.”
The National Center for Simulation, located at Naval Support Activity Orlando, will receive $350,000 in grants. The funding will allow for the development of a comprehensive threat mitigation plan to reduce Team Orlando’s risk of realignment or closure. The goal is to implement a strategy that will strengthen and grow the modeling, simulation and training industry in order to retain Team Orlando.
Governor Scott said, “My top priority is creating jobs and that means we must continue to make Florida the best place in the nation for military service members and their families to live and work. This $350,000 investment for Naval Support Activity Orlando will help keep vital missions at Florida’s military installations as well as foster positive relationships between the military and the community.”
Senator Andy Gardiner said, “The impact of Florida’s military bases is often overlooked as an economic driver for the state. More than $60 billion in inserted annually into our economy by the nearly 700,000 personnel living in our state. These grants go a long way to help preserve this economic asset.”
Representative Bryan Nelson said, “These grants go a long way in helping to preserve the economic impact our military bases and families have on Florida. I sincerely thank Governor Scott and the defense task force for recognizing the value of our military communities.”
Retired Lieutenant General Thomas L. Baptiste, President and Executive Director of the National Center for Simulation, said, “We appreciate the confidence and support of Governor Scott and the Florida Defense Support Task Force. Orlando’s Research Park remains the worldwide epicenter of the Modeling, Simulation & Training Industry. The acquisition commands of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and ten other federal government agencies and joint commands are all collocated in what we refer to as Team Orlando. This Grant funding will match local contributions and allow community leaders to execute an action plan designed to protect, grow and enhance Team Orlando and continue to deliver cost effective training solutions to America’s warfighters.”
Tampa Bay Region
The Tampa Bay Defense Alliance will receive $130,000. The funding will allow for the establishment of a cohesive, effective local defense community organization that will develop and strengthen relationships between MacDill Air Force Base and the local community.
Governor Scott said, “Florida continues to be the best place in the Nation for military service members and their families to live and work – and this $130,000 investment means we’ll better support our men and women who serve in the Tampa community.”
Senator Tom Lee said, “Florida’s military installations are vital to Florida in so many ways, from defending our citizens to billions in economic impact. These funds are critical to keeping the bases and military personnel in our communities.”Representative Dana Young said, “The value of grants like these cannot be overstated. I’m delighted that Governor Scott and the defense task force recognize the tremendous value of MacDill to our community and included us in these awards.”
John Schueler, president of the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance, said, “Through the award of this tremendous grant, Tampa Bay will be able to speak as one team with one strategy and with one voice for MacDill AFB, our defense community and aligns our efforts with all the other Defense Alliances throughout the State of Florida.”
The Highlands Region
The Highlands County Economic Development Commission will receive $500,000. The funding will assist in acquiring conservation easements on land adjacent to Avon Park Air Force Range in order to protect the range from encroachment and possible air mission limitations. This initiative will help enhance the military value of the range and protect it from possible realignment or closure.
Governor Scott said, “Florida continues to be the best place in the nation for military service members and their families to live and work. With this $500,000 investment, Highlands County will be able to acquire additional buffer space, so our men and women in the military have the resources needed to conduct critical training missions.”
Senator Denise Grimsley said, “We are very fortunate to have nearly 700,000 military personnel living in Florida, providing a $60 billion impact into our economy. Grants like these help maintain a high quality of life for our military families.”
Representative Cary Pigman said, “These grants go a long way in helping to preserve the economic impact our military bases and families have on Florida. I am truly excited the Avon Park Air Force Range was selected as a recipient. I sincerely thank Governor Scott and the defense task force for recognizing the value of our military communities.”
Stephen Weeks, Executive Director of the Highlands County Economic Development Commission, said, “Highlands County is thrilled to accept this grant so that we can provide the necessary buffering for the Avon Park Air Force Range to continue to be the premier bombing range in the southeast United States. Additionally, the base buffering creates an ecological corridor to relieve environmental pressures on the base, water resource and working landscapes. The range is a vital asset that allows our military forces to maintain the highest standard of readiness.”
The Florida Defense Support Task Force was created in 2011 with the mission to make recommendations to preserve and protect military installations, support the state’s position in research and development related to military missions and contracting, and improve the state’s military-friendly environment for service members, military families, military retirees and businesses that bring military and base-related jobs to the state.
This program is administered by Enterprise Florida, Inc. The grants are awarded annually, on a project priority basis, to organizations and communities working to protect, preserve and enhance Florida’s military installations and missions as well as improving the state’s military-friendly environment for service members, families and veterans. For more information on the Florida Defense Support Task Force, you are invited to visit their web site at: www.eflorida.com/floridadefense
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Enterprise Florida, Inc. (www.eflorida.com) is a partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the state of Florida. Headquartered in Orlando, Enterprise Florida’s mission is to facilitate job growth for Florida’s businesses and citizens leading to a vibrant statewide economy. In pursuit of its mission, Enterprise Florida works closely with a statewide network of economic development partners and is funded both by the State of Florida and by private-sector businesses.