Rick Scott awards $2.45 million in Florida Defense Grants to 14 communities

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Gov. Rick Scott announced he would award more than a dozen Florida communities that hold military installations — including Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties — up to $2.45 million in Defense Grants.

“These investments are key to sustaining Florida’s military installations and the more than 758,000 jobs the military and defense industry supports in our state,” Scott said in a statement released today. “I am proud to announce these $2.45 million of grants that are necessary to protect Florida’s military sector and keep our state the most military-friendly state in the nation.”

Scott’s office estimates the military and defense industry contributes nearly $73.4 billion, or 9.4 percent, of Florida’s gross state product, providing nearly 758,000 jobs for Floridians.

As part of the 14 communities to get Scott’s Defense Reinvestment Grant is $850,000 to 12 communities throughout Florida to support military/community relations and promote economic diversification. Each project requires a 30 percent match from each communities receiving the grants.

A Defense Infrastructure Grant will also distribute $1.6 million to eight local governments with military installations to improve transportation, access and safety issues.

This year, Defense Grants are going to the following counties: Polk, Brevard, Duval, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Clay, Pinellas, Escambia, Orange, Bay, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Walton, and Highlands.

The announcement of grants drew praise from a number of key Republican state lawmakers:

“Governor Scott, Speaker Weatherford and I are committed to making Florida’s communities the most military-friendly in America,” said Senate president Don Gaetz. ‘As the sponsor of the enabling legislation, I’m keenly aware that the work of the Defense Support Task Force is critical to preserving and protecting Florida’s bases and missions.”

“I am proud of the role Florida’s military communities play in keeping our nation safe,” said House Speaker Will Weatherford. “This funding supports jobs and provides stability in the communities supporting our military bases.”

 “These grants go a long way in helping to preserve the economic impact our military bases and families have on Florida,” added Rep. Jimmy Patronis, chair of the Florida Defense Task Force. “In Bay County alone, this program continues to be highly leveraged with more than 14,000 volunteer hours registered by the 32-member Bay Defense Alliance Board. “

Enterprise Florida is the public-private corporation administering Florida Defense Grants, which are awarded annually on a prioritized basis.

“The Florida Defense Grants Programs are incredibly important for our military and defense programs and the communities they support,” said Enterprise Florida President and CEO Gray Swoope. “Grants strengthen Florida’s workforce through the skilled former military personnel who enter the employment market each year.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.