Citing the military’s role as an economic engine across the state, Governor Rick Scott on Monday awarded over two million dollars in grants to projects ranging from wounded veteran assistance and technology seed money to buffers around military installations, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.
Scott gave approval to 10 projects that the governor said will translate into new jobs, not just for military personal but the communities that surround the facilities.
“The military has a strong presence in Florida, which means jobs and opportunities for Florida families,” Scott said in a statement. “With numerous bases across Florida, nearly 100,000 men and women who serve in active and reserve duty are living in the Sunshine State.”
The announcement drew praise from legislators whose districts are tied to military spending.
The awards also come as federal officials prepare for the next round of military base realignments, an often politically charged process pitting states and communities against each other for what are expected to be increasingly limited federal funds.
“The impact of Florida’s military bases is often overlooked as an economic driver for the state,” said Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando. “More than $60 billion is inserted annually into our economy by the nearly 700,000 personnel living in our state. These grants go a long way to help preserve this economic asset.”
Among the list of projects are four in Northwest Florida totaling $1.1 million. Projects include a $500,000 grant for land acquisition in Panama City and $160,000 to construct fencing around Whiting Field in Santa Rosa County.
The City of Jacksonville will receive two grants totaling $450,000, allowing city officials to continue protecting local military installations used at the Air National Guard Base and Naval Station Mayport.
“These grants help protect our military bases from potential encroachment and other obstacles that may adversely affect them,” said Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville. “I applaud Gov. Scott and the defense task force for addressing this need.”
In Orlando, a $350,000 grant will be used to improve simulation and modeling capabilities at the Navy’s National Center for Simulation, a move to improve the facility’s chances of surviving potential program cuts.
In Tampa, a $130,000 grant will allow be used to strengthen relationships between MacDill Air Force Base and the community.