Defense Grant Awarded to Bay Defense Alliance - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Defense Grant Awarded to Bay Defense Alliance

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Governor Rick Scott announced Northwest Florida will receive four grants totaling $1.135 million from the Florida Defense Support Task Force for fiscal year 2013. The funding will allow local communities to protect local military installations.

Governor Scott said, "The Florida Panhandle is vital to America's national security - and we're committed to supporting the families and communities who serve. To grow and protect jobs and opportunities for Florida families, we're investing $1.1 million in Military Taskforce grant funding to buffer our bases, support research and development operations, and support our wounded warriors."

The Northwest Florida organizations receiving grants this year are:

  • 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.

Gray Swoope, Secretary of Commerce and president & CEO of Enterprise Florida, said, "Enterprise Florida, through its work with the Florida Defense Task Force, is committed to supporting the military sector in our state," said Gray Swoope, Secretary of Commerce and president & CEO of Enterprise Florida. "Military and defense has an incredible economic impact in Florida and these grants will help to keep that important funding in our state."

"These grants continue the tradition of Florida being the most military friendly state in the country with Northwest Florida as the most military-friendly area of our state," said Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville). "I was proud to sponsor the legislation to make today's announcement a reality for the families and communities of Northwest Florida."

Representative Jimmy Patronis said, "I applaud the Governor and the defense task force for awarding these grants and helping to protect Florida's military bases and families. These funds will ensure that the base remains a vital component of our community."

"Clearly, the Florida Defense Support Task Force, the legislature and the governor's office understand the importance of Florida's defense industry to the state's our economy," said Tom Neubauer, president of the Bay County Defense Alliance (BDA).  

"Grant funds were strategically awarded to address the top priorities of defense communities like ours in their efforts to support our bases and their missions.  While the Bay Defense Alliance remains focused on Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Support Activity Panama City, local BDA members partner with the state to ensure Florida is an excellent place for the Department of Defense to do business.  We will continue to work together in support of the state's reputation as the most defense-friendly in the nation."

Alex Lincoln, vice president of the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, knows how critical these types of grants are to enhancing the quality of life for our military personnel.  "The Andrews Institute is honored to be awarded a grant by the Florida Defense Support Task Force.  These Funds will continue to highlight Northwest Florida's support for our nation's military while preserving careers and upgrading the lives of wounded and injured special operations personnel," said Lincoln.

Statewide, Governor Scott awarded $2.6 million in the Florida Defense Support Task Force grant initiatives to local community organizations which support Florida military installations. These grants will be utilized to protect, preserve and enhance Florida's military missions and installations while maintaining Florida's reputation as the most military friendly state in the U.S.

The grants were awarded to 10 worthy projects that serve to protect our military installations across the state:

  • Bay County Defense Alliance
  • National Simulation Center in Orlando
  • Highlands County EDC
  • City of Jacksonville
  • Tampa Bay Defense Alliance
  • Santa Rosa County
  • Greater Pensacola Chamber
  • Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze
  • Florida 8 (a) Alliance in Jacksonville

Additionally, these grants will strengthen Florida's bases ahead of any potential Department of Defense realignment or closure actions, thereby protecting over $60 billion in economic impact, and the over 686,181 jobs that the defense industry annually infuses into Florida.

"The Center of Excellence is a culmination of years of preparation and collaboration with our federal partners at Corry Station here in Pensacola," said Craig Dalton, Vice President of Armed Services for the Greater Pensacola Chamber. "The State of Florida's recognition of this endeavor underscores the value of our partnership in creating a true focal point for all cyber initiatives. This project will serve a large role in our continuing efforts to collaboratively develop this high-tech industry in Northwest Florida."

Sheila Harris, Santa Rosa County grants coordinator, understands the value grants like this can have on her area and their local installation.  "Santa Rosa County is deeply appreciative of the Florida Defense Support Task Force grant to continue efforts to improve and enhance the mission and viability of NAS Whiting Field," said Harris.

The Florida Defense Support Task Force was created in 2011 with the mission to make recommendations to preserve and protect military installations, support the state's position in research and development related to military missions and contracting, and improve the state's military-friendly environment for service members, military families, military retirees and businesses that bring military and base-related jobs to the state.

This program is administered by Enterprise Florida, Inc. The grants are awarded annually, on a project priority basis, to organizations and communities working to protect, preserve and enhance Florida's military installations and missions as well as improving the state's military-friendly environment for service members, families and veterans. For more information on the Florida Defense Support Task Force, visit their web site at: