Governor Ron DeSantis today announced that $725,000 has been awarded through the Florida Defense Support Task Force (FDSTF) Grant Program to six projects to protect military installations across the state. This year, awards were given to the Clay County Development Authority, Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast in Brevard County and the Military Child Education Coalition in Duval, Hillsborough, and Okaloosa Counties. Florida’s military and defense industry contributes more than $84.9 billion in economic impact and supports more than 801,747 jobs, which is the second largest economic sector in the state.
“The awarding of $725,000 in Florida Defense Support Task Force grants demonstrates Florida’s commitment to protect, preserve and enhance Florida’s military installations,” said Governor DeSantis. “As the most military-friendly state, Florida is dedicated to the thousands of military and civilian families who live and work in our defense communities.”
“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Enterprise Florida and the Florida Defense Support Task Force remain committed to strengthening and protecting our military installations and helping those communities that support our military men and women in uniform,” said Jamal Sowell, Florida Secretary of Commerce and Enterprise Florida President & CEO. “This investment will provide Florida’s military bases with the resources to be resilient and continue Florida’s reputation as the most military-friendly state in the nation.”
Grant funding will support community projects at Florida military installations that will diversify local economies, provide support for local infrastructure projects and strengthen Florida’s bases ahead of any potential Department of Defense realignment or closure actions. For more information on the individual grant award for projects throughout the state, see below:
Clay County: $500,000 Defense Grant
$500,000 was awarded to Clay County through the Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program to buffer Camp Blanding from incompatible land development. Camp Blanding trains over 350,000 Florida National Guard troops, active duty military members and law enforcement units.
“In accordance with our principal purpose of promoting sound economic development of Clay County, the Clay County Development Authority is pleased to receive this grant,” said Josh Cockrell, Executive Director of the Clay County Development Authority. “It will strengthen the strategic partnership with Camp Blanding Joint Training Center and improve the quality of life for our citizens by securing a buffer from future development and encroachment, thus protecting the installation that comprises almost one-fifth of the county and is tied to its economic viability.”
Brevard County: $125,000 Defense Grant
$125,000 was awarded to the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, the home of the 45th Space Wing which includes 27 mission partners plus tenants at Patrick Air Force Base (PAFB) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). The base is home to approximately 13,000 military, Department of Defense civilian and defense contractor personnel. PAFB and CCAFS serve a unique role as it serves to enhance space operations capability for the United States. The base is also critical to the local economy. This grant supports mission growth by identifying opportunities and resources by producing a detailed assessment of the conditions of critical infrastructure supporting Eastern Range space operations.
“This grant is both an investment in our nation’s military assets and Brevard County’s local community,” said Lynda Weatherman, President and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. “We are pleased the FDSTF members recognize the value of our military installations and the significance of this project.”
Duval, Hillsborough, and Okaloosa County School Districts: $100,000 Defense Grant
$100,000 was awarded to Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC) to support military-connected children in Florida. Frequent school moves and poor connections to schools have been linked with lower grades and test scores, poor attendance and higher dropout rates, an increased risk of failing or repeating a grade, adjustment problems, and an increased probability of engaging in risky behaviors. By demonstrating its support for military families through programs that will enhance the education experience of military-connected children, Florida continues to position itself as the most military-friendly state by supporting military families.
“The Military Child Education Coalition is proud of this strategic partnership with the State of Florida, home to over 93,000 military-connected children and 27 military installations covering all branches of service,” said Jack Ballentyne, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of MCEC. “Florida’s outstanding reputation of being military-friendly is backed by a history of deep support for Service Members, Veterans and their families. Working in collaboration with education, community and installation partners, the Military Child Education Coalition will offer student support services and a Military Student Transition Consultant-Affiliate embedded at the school level to meet needs as they arise. We are deeply grateful to Florida for their broad and generous support of the children of those who serve us all.”
About the Florida Defense Support Task Force
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, veterans and businesses that bring military and defense-related jobs to the state.
The Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program is administered by Enterprise Florida, and grants are awarded annually, on a project priority basis. For more information on the Florida Defense Support Task Force, visit eflorida.com/floridadefense.