Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that $2.45 million in defense grants will be awarded to 14 communities hosting military installations. These grants have been utilized for more than 15 years to help Florida maintain its reputation as the most military-friendly state in the nation.
Governor Scott said, "These investments are key to sustaining Florida's military installations and the more than 758,000 jobs the military and defense industry supports in our state. I am grateful to Florida's servicemen and women, veterans and military families for their sacrifices and dedication to protecting families across Florida and the nation. I am proud to announce these $2.45 million of grants that are necessary to protect Florida's military sector and keep our state the most military-friendly state in the nation."
Florida's military and defense industry is responsible for $73.4 billion, or 9.4 percent, of Florida's gross state product, which translates to jobs for more than 758,000 Floridians.
Senate President Don Gaetz said, "Governor Scott, Speaker Weatherford and I are committed to making Florida's communities the most military-friendly in America. As the sponsor of the enabling legislation, I'm keenly aware that the work of the Defense Support Task Force is critical to preserving and protecting Florida's bases and missions and I am grateful to the Task Force for making another significant investment in Northwest Florida."
House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) said, "I am proud of the role Florida's military communities play in keeping our nation safe. This funding supports jobs and provides stability in the communities supporting our military bases."
Representative Jimmy Patronis, chair of the Florida Defense Task Force, 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 Legislature for recognizing the value of our military communities and funding these important grant programs. In Bay County alone, this program continues to be highly leveraged with more than 14,000 volunteer hours registered by the 32-member Bay Defense Alliance Board. "
President and CEO of Enterprise Florida, Gray Swoope said, "The Florida Defense Grants Programs are incredibly important for our military and defense programs and the communities they support. The state's economy benefits greatly from our military installations, and supporting them through these grants helps those installations to operate at their highest levels. Additionally, the grants strengthen Florida's workforce through the skilled former military personnel who enter the employment market each year. Enterprise Florida is proud to support Florida's extensive military and defense sector."
This year's Defense Reinvestment Grant awarded $850,000 to 12 communities throughout the state. The program is designed to support military community relations in Florida as well as promote economic diversification strategies in defense dependent communities. Each project requires a 30 percent match from the grantees.
The Defense Infrastructure Grant allotted $1.6 million to eight local governments for the purpose of benefitting the community and the military installation. Winning projects addressed encroachment and buffering, transportation and access, and security issues.
The 2013-14 Defense Grants were awarded to defense partners in the following counties: Polk, Brevard, Duval, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Clay, Pinellas, Escambia, Orange, Bay, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Walton, and Highlands. Some communities received a grant in each program.
The Florida Defense Grants Programs are administered by Enterprise Florida, Inc. The grants are awarded annually, on a project prioritized basis, to communities hosting military installations.