TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced more than $3 million in funding support for Florida’s military communities this week. Tampa will receive $117,000 of the funding, sourced from a variety of different state programs.
In a combination of funds provided by the Defense Infrastructure Grant Program, the Defense Reinvestment Grant Program, and the Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program, as well as the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Enterprise Florida Inc., the money will be used for grants to support economic diversity, local infrastructure and military community relations, according to a release from the governor’s office.
“I am proud to continue making investments in Florida’s military communities and upholding my administration’s commitment to keeping Florida the most military-friendly state in the nation,” DeSantis said. “In Florida, we value those who protect and serve our nation and the sacrifices that their families make. That is why we work to provide tangible support that enhances the lives and communities of service members for generations to come.”
The governor’s office said $1.6 million would be awarded from the Defense Infrastructure Grant Program, which “supports local infrastructure projects deemed to have an impact on the military value of installations within the state.”
Projects funded by the program will include:
- Clay County Development Authority ($500,000) – to modernize outdated and substandard marshalling and maintenance facilities at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center to ensure deploying equipment is fully mission capable and to enable the installation to perform deployment and redeployment operations.
- City of Jacksonville ($500,000) – to jointly acquire restrictive use easements of properties in the Military Influence Zone at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
- Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners ($483,000) – to continue restrictive-use easement property purchases 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 commute times, improve delivery schedules, and reduce emissions.
Additionally, $800,000 will be awarded by the Defense Reinvestment Grant Program to support “community-based activities that protect existing military installations.” The grant program awards funds to “applicants that represent a local government with a military installation that could be adversely affected by federal actions.” Other state leaders offered their support for the awards.
“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 achieve,” DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said. “Military installations 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 from the Defense Reinvestment Grant Program will be split between:
- Bay Defense Alliance ($125,000) – to continue Hurricane Michael rebuilding efforts and assist Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Support Activity Panama City with community support and partnerships as the base implements new aircraft programs.
- Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce ($125,000) – to partner with the West Florida Defense Alliance to develop relationships with local contractors and community organizations to streamline contract execution, whereby increasing the number of defense-related jobs in the region.
- One Okaloosa Economic Development Council ($125,000) – to perform community-based activities to sustain existing military installations and diversify a defense-dependent community.
- Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners ($120,000) – to assess 5G services and implementation, as well as to establish a resiliency scorecard for military-community initiatives that enhance and protect military missions.
- Clay County Economic Development Corporation ($118,000) – to leverage funds in order to create major job centers for high-wage job creation to diversify the defense dependent community and protect Camp Blanding as a vital community asset.
- Orlando Economic Partnership ($107,800) – to support growth of the modeling and simulation industry in the Central Florida Region, which is made up of military, educational, and business leaders.
- Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast ($79,200) – to increase outreach efforts by directly supporting the Hiring Our Heroes program, Vet Florida SkillBridge program, and Space Coast Salutes our Military website engagement.
“The Florida Defense Support Task Force is dedicated to ensuring Florida’s military communities support the mission of our state’s installations,” Colonel Terrance McCaffrey, Vice President of Military and Defense Programs at Enterprise Florida said. “These grants ensure those missions are protected and also afford local and state governments the opportunity to partner with them to help them thrive.”
An additional $661,810 in funding was provided by the Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program split by:
- City of Jacksonville ($500,000) – to restrict incompatible land use in the Military Influence Zone through the purchase of restrictive use easements.
- Emerald Coast Regional Council ($161,810) – to use partnership agreements among the military installations in the Emerald Coast region and their surrounding communities to allow military installations to partner with local and state governments and provide a wide variety of services.
The Florida Defense Support Task Force was started in 2011. The funding it provides is intended to support state research and development related to military missions and contracting, improve Florida’s military-friendly environment for service members, their families, veterans, and businesses that draw military and defense jobs to the state, and “make recommendations to preserve and protect military installations” in Florida.