by Bethany Blankley
More than $3 million has been awarded to military communities in Florida through three grant programs to support economic diversification efforts, local infrastructure projects, and military community relations.
“In Florida, we value those who protect and serve our nation and the sacrifices that their families make,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “That is why we work to provide tangible support that enhances the lives and communities of service members for generations to come.”
Through the Defense Infrastructure Grant Program, a total of $1.6 million was awarded to four entities. The program provides funding for local infrastructure projects that benefit the local community and military installations related to encroachment, transportation and access, utilities, communications, housing, the environment and security.
Through the grant, the Clay County Development Authority received $500,000 to modernize facilities at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center. The city of Jacksonville received $500,000 to jointly acquire restrictive use easements of properties in the Military Influence Zone at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
The Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners received $483,000 to continue restrictive-use easement property purchases around Naval Air Station Whiting Field. The city of Tampa received $117,000 to complete road and other improvements around MacDill Air Force Base.
A total of $800,000 in funding was awarded through the Defense Reinvestment Grant Program to seven entities. The program provides funding to protect existing military installations, diversify the economy of a defense-dependent community, and develop plans for the reuse of closed or realigned military installations.
The Bay Defense Alliance received $125,000 to continue Hurricane Michael rebuilding efforts and assist Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Support Activity Panama City with several programs. The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce received $125,000 to partner with the West Florida Defense Alliance to increase the number of defense-related jobs in the region; the One Okaloosa Economic Development Council also received $125,000.
Through the grant, the Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners received $120,000, the Clay County Economic Development Corporation received $118,000, and the Orlando Economic Partnership received $107,800. The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast received $79,200 to support the Hiring Our Heroes program, Vet Florida SkillBridge program, and Space Coast Salutes our Military website engagement.
The Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program received $661,810 to fund two entities. The city of Jacksonville received $500,000 to purchase restrictive use easements in the Military Influence Zone. The Emerald Coast Regional Council received $161,810 to allow military installations to partner with local and state governments and provide a wide variety of services.
The task force’s goal is to preserve and protect military installations, research and development related to military missions and contracting, and create a military-friendly environment for service members, military families, veterans, and businesses that bring military and defense-related jobs to Florida.
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Bethany Blankley is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Camp Blanding Joint Training Center” by Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.