Military Projects Create Jobs, Economic Growth

With a $60 billion injection and provider of almost 700,000 jobs each year, the defense industry is a serious economic engine within the state of Florida. This infusion of highly skilled, high wage jobs is fuel for the growth of high-tech innovations across the state as well as here at home. Although our moniker is the Space Coast, military installations rank high on the list of Brevard’s unique identifying assets.

Over its history, the Economic Development Commission has embraced the mission of both our local Air Force and Navy installations, helping to fight for critical resources that bolster programs. A dedicated council of EDC volunteers, known as the Space Coast Defense Alliance, has consistently supported local military programs through advocacy efforts and rallying community support for future projects.

Florida Defense Grant Program

A highly successful, but relatively unknown, economic development tool is one large way our organization supports local installations. The Florida Defense Grant Program, which is administered by Governor Rick Scott’s economic development organization, Enterprise Florida Inc., and funded by the state’s legislature, assists Florida communities that host defense industries, bases, and installations. The EDC works directly with local military leaders to learn about areas of critical need and then seeks these defense grants on the installations’ behalf. Grants are awarded annually, on a priority project basis.

This year, the EDC was once again successful in obtaining grants for key projects through both the Defense Infrastructure Program and the Defense Reinvestment Grant Program. Our awarded amount for FY 2012-2013 was nearly double that of FY 2011-2012, which will allow us to further increase our support of local installations. This year’s grant awards include:

The Defense Infrastructure Program 

This addresses the infrastructure needs of Florida’s military installations. Grants are provided for projects associated with encroachment, transportation and access, utilities, communications, housing, environment and security.

This year’s funding of $200,000 will be used toward upgrading launch processing facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This award was one of just seven awards of this size issued statewide.

The Defense Reinvestment Grant Program 

This is designed to assist communities in developing economic diversification strategies and implement base reuse programs. The program encourages communities to analyze their economic reliance on defense expenditures and formulate specific plans to respond to the nation’s defense priorities.

This year’s funding of $75,000 will enable the EDC to foster close interaction with the Departments of the Air Force and Navy, while developing a well-informed, supportive body of local government and community leaders.

Keeping the State Military Friendly

This round of awards builds on an already impressive list of projects the EDC has supported. Many of the area’s noteworthy military projects, including a new engineering building at the Naval Ordnance Test Unit, the Child Development Center at Patrick Air Force Base and the new AFTAC Building, have all been aided by these state grant programs in previous years. The funding has helped to not only create and update facilities but it has made the difference by saving hundreds of jobs and strengthening our economy at the same time.

In total, Governor Rick Scott awarded $1.5 million in grants to eight communities across Florida. Projects receiving similar awards surround issues such as density reduction to road improvements and benefit military installations from Jacksonville to Tampa. This Defense Grant Program is one way the community can build a targeted strategy to support and expand Brevard County’s military installations. It serves as a vital tool in maintaining Florida’s reputation as the most military friendly state in the nation and one that improves the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Floridians employed at our military installations.

To learn more about the Florida Defense Grant program, visit http://www.floridadefense.org/grants.asp.

Paul Hanson is Chairman of the Board of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.