Eleven Florida counties are getting a combined $850,000 worth of grants from the state. The counties were selected for the money based on whether they are home to military communities. The state says the funding is meant to help communities dependent on federal defense spending diversify their economies.
Several panhandle counties along with Miami, Duval and others, received grants worth between $40,000 and $125,000. Governor Rick Scott says the counties had to apply for the funds, and that the the money is designed to help them attract new business.
“Working with the defense community and working with other companies that are non-defense, but are similar technology, similar workers, things of that sort. And county-by-county, project by project to see where we can have the biggest impact on jobs," he said.
The military and defense sector has a $60 billion economic impact to the state and is Florida’s third-largest sector after tourism and agriculture. State officials are concerned about planned budget cuts to defense and other sectors at the federal level which are set to go into effect early next year if Congress doesn’t act.
“The military and defense is about eight percent of our economy. We have over 600,000 defense-related jobs in Florida. So the sequestration where the federal government will cut defense…will be very significant in our state," said Governor Scott.
Bay, Brevard, Clay, Duval, Escambia, Okaloosa, Hillsboro, Miami-Dade, Orange, Pinellas, and Santa Rosa were all selected for the grants.