On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Florida Defense Support Task Force (FDSTF) grants headed to military bases across the Sunshine State.
DeSantis said $725,000 in funds from the FDSTF Grant Program were given to the Clay County Development Authority, Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast in Brevard County and the Military Child Education Coalition in Duval, Hillsborough, and Okaloosa Counties.
The military and defense industry adds almost $85 billion to the Sunshine State, employing almost 891,750 Floridians.
“The awarding of $725,000 in Florida Defense Support Task Force grants demonstrates Florida’s commitment to protect, preserve and enhance Florida’s military installations,” said DeSantis. “As the most military-friendly state, Florida is dedicated to the thousands of military and civilian families who live and work in our defense communities.”
“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Enterprise Florida and the Florida Defense Support Task Force remain committed to strengthening and protecting our military installations and helping those communities that support our military men and women in uniform,” said Florida Commerce Sec. Jamal Sowell, the president and CEO of Enterprise Florida. “This investment will provide Florida’s military bases with the resources to be resilient and continue Florida’s reputation as the most military-friendly state in the nation.”
According to the governor’s office, the funds will “support community projects at Florida military installations that will diversify local economies, provide support for local infrastructure projects and strengthen Florida’s bases ahead of any potential Department of Defense realignment or closure actions.”
Clay County is getting most of the funds--$500,000--to buffer Camp Blanding.
“In accordance with our principal purpose of promoting sound economic development of Clay County, the Clay County Development Authority is pleased to receive this grant,” said Josh Cockrell, the executive director of the Clay County Development Authority. “It will strengthen the strategic partnership with Camp Blanding Joint Training Center and improve the quality of life for our citizens by securing a buffer from future development and encroachment, thus protecting the installation that comprises almost one-fifth of the county and is tied to its economic viability.”
The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast is getting $125,000 to identify “opportunities and resources by producing a detailed assessment of the conditions of critical infrastructure supporting Eastern Range space operations.”
“This grant is both an investment in our nation’s military assets and Brevard County’s local community,” said Lynda Weatherman, the president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. “We are pleased the FDSTF members recognize the value of our military installations and the significance of this project.”
The Duval, Hillsborough and Okaloosa County School Districts will all be getting $100,000 each to help the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) aid students in military families.
“The Military Child Education Coalition is proud of this strategic partnership with the State of Florida, home to over 93,000 military-connected children and 27 military installations covering all branches of service,” said Jack Ballentyne, the senior vice president and Chief Operating Officer of MCEC. “Florida’s outstanding reputation of being military-friendly is backed by a history of deep support for service members, veterans and their families. Working in collaboration with education, community and installation partners, the Military Child Education Coalition will offer student support services and a Military Student Transition Consultant-Affiliate embedded at the school level to meet needs as they arise. We are deeply grateful to Florida for their broad and generous support of the children of those who serve us all.”