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Florida Spreads $2.6 Million in Defense Grants

Defense grants totaling $2.6 million have been awarded to 10 projects across the state, the governors office announced Monday.

With numerous bases across Florida, nearly 100,000 men and women who serve in active and reserve duty are living in the Sunshine State, Gov. Rick Scott stated in a release.

These $2.6 million in grants will enhance relationships between Florida communities and the military, to ensure were doing the best job possible in working with our nations armed services.

Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, stated in a release the grants will help maintain Florida being the most military friendly state in the country with Northwest Florida as the most military-friendly area of our state."

Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, added that the military bases pump more than $60 billion a year into the states economy, employing nearly 700,000.

The 2012-13 Florida Defense Support Task Force Grants were awarded to:

The Bay Defense Alliance in Panama City: $500,000 to assist in the acquisition of land to buffer Naval Support Activity Panama City from encroachment.

The Greater Pensacola Chamber: $250,000 to establish a center of excellence for information dominance to stimulate science and technology research.

The Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze: $225,000 to provide support for wounded special operations warriors in order to return them to active duty.

The Santa Rosa County board of commissioners: $160,000 to construct a fence to buffer Naval Air Station Whiting Field from the developing Whiting Aviation Park.

The city of Jacksonville will receive two grants totaling $450,000. The funding will allow Jacksonville officials to continue protecting local military installations by constructing an explosive ordinance disposal bunker at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base and establishing a maritime research and development capability at Naval Station Mayport.

The Florida 8 (a) Alliance, based in Jacksonville, will receive $100,000 to assist veteran-owned and defense industry small businesses across Florida.

The National Center for Simulation, located at Naval Support Activity Orlando, will receive $350,000 in grants. The funding will allow for the development of a comprehensive threat mitigation plan to reduce Team Orlandos risk of realignment or closure. The goal is to implement a strategy that will strengthen and grow the modeling, simulation and training industry in order to retain Team Orlando.

The Tampa Bay Defense Alliance will receive $130,000. The funding will allow for the establishment of a cohesive, effective local defense community organization that will develop and strengthen relationships between MacDill Air Force Base and the local community.

The Highlands County Economic Development Commission will receive $500,000. The funding will assist in acquiring conservation easements on land adjacent to Avon Park Air Force Range in order to protect the range from encroachment and possible air mission limitations. This initiative will help enhance the military value of the range and protect it from possible realignment or closure.

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