DeSantis announces over $3 million to support Florida military communities
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Governor Ron DeSantis this week announced more than $3 million in financial support for Florida military communities. Tampa will receive $117,000 in funding, from various different state programs.
In a combination of funds provided by the Defense Infrastructure Grant Program, Defense Reinvestment Grant Program, and Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program, as well as the Department of Opportunities Florida Economics and Enterprise Florida Inc., the money will be used for grants to support economic diversity, local infrastructure and military community relations, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
“I am proud to continue to invest in Florida’s military communities and to uphold my administration’s commitment to making Florida the most military-friendly state in the nation,” DeSantis said. “In Florida, we appreciate those who protect and serve our nation and the sacrifices their families make. That’s why we strive to provide tangible support that improves military lives and communities for generations to come.
The governor’s office said $1.6 million would be awarded under the Defense Infrastructure Grant Program, which “supports local infrastructure projects deemed to impact the military value of facilities in the State”.
Projects funded by the program will include:
- Clay County Development Authority ($500,000) – modernize outdated and sub-standard muster and maintenance facilities at the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center to ensure that deployed equipment is fully mission-ready and to allow the facility to conduct deployment and redeployment operations.
- City of Jacksonville ($500,000) – to jointly acquire easements for the restrictive use of properties in the area of military influence of the naval air base in Jacksonville.
- Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners ($483,000) – continue purchases of restrictive-use easement properties around Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field to ensure operational sustainability.
- City of Tampa ($117,000) – to complete road improvements that will reduce traffic congestion for vehicles entering MacDill Air Force Base and improve traffic flow, reduce travel times, improve delivery schedules and reduce emissions.
In addition, $800,000 will be awarded through the Defense Reinvestment Grant program to support “community activities that protect existing military installations.” The grant program awards funds to “applicants who represent a local government with a military installation that could be affected by federal actions.” Other heads of state offered their support for the awards.
“The DEO is proud to support Governor DeSantis in his mission to serve those who serve our nation, and we look forward to the accomplishments these projects will help bring about,” said DEO Secretary Dane Eagle. “Military facilities are vital not only to those who serve, but to all Floridians who benefit from the economic diversity and job creation they inspire.”
According to the governor’s office, funds for the Defense Reinvestment Grant Program will be distributed among:
- Bay Defense Alliance ($125,000) – to continue Hurricane Michael reconstruction efforts and assist Tyndall Air Force Base and Panama City Naval Support Activity with community support and partnerships as the base implements new aircraft programs.
- Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce ($125,000) – partner with the West Florida Defense Alliance to develop relationships with local contractors and community organizations to streamline contract fulfillment, thereby increasing the number of defense-related jobs in the region.
- An Okaloosa Economic Development Council ($125,000) – conduct community activities to support existing military installations and diversify a defense-dependent community.
- Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners ($120,000) – to assess 5G services and implementation, as well as to establish a resilience scorecard for military-community initiatives that enhance and protect military missions.
- Clay County Economic Development Corporation ($118,000) – to raise funds to create important employment centers for the creation of high-wage jobs to diversify the defense dependent community and protect Camp Blanding as a vital community asset.
- Orlando Economic Partnership ($107,800) – to support the growth of the modeling and simulation industry in the Central Florida region, which is comprised of military, educational and commercial leaders.
- Florida Space Coast Economic Development Commission ($79,200) – to increase outreach efforts by directly supporting the Hiring Our Heroes program, the Vet Florida SkillBridge program and Space Coast salute our military website commitment.
“The Florida Defense Support Task Force is committed to ensuring that Florida’s military communities support the mission of our state’s installations,” said Col. Terrance McCaffrey, vice president of military and defense programs at EnterpriseFlorida. “These grants ensure that these missions are protected and also provide opportunities for local and state governments to partner with them to help them thrive.”
Additional funding of $661,810 was provided by the Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program, divided by:
- City of Jacksonville ($500,000) – restrict the use of incompatible lands in the area of military influence through the purchase of restrictive use easements.
- Emerald Coast Regional Council ($161,810) – Utilize partnership agreements between military installations in the Emerald Coast region and their surrounding communities to enable military installations to partner with local and state governments and provide a wide variety of services.
The Florida Defense Support Task Force was launched in 2011. The funding it provides is intended to support state research and development related to military missions and contracts, improve the Florida’s military environment for service members, their families, veterans, and businesses that attract military and defense jobs to the state, and “to make recommendations to preserve and protect military installations” in Florida.