Bruce Grant, Vice President of Military and Defense Programs, Enterprise Florida

By: Florida Chamber Foundation

In the latest Florida Horizon, Tony Carvajal, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber Foundation sat down with Bruce Grant, Vice President of Military and Defense Programs with Enterprise Florida to discuss Florida’s military presence and the important role our defense industry has on Florida’s economy. Enterprise Florida is the economic development agency for the state of Florida.

Below are highlights from this interview along with select excerpts.

Florida’s Defense Industry and its Impact on the State Economy.

“It is actually the number two economic driver. It brings in about $84.9 billion a year in terms of economic impact to the state of Florida. It’s very, very important.”

“Some of it is direct and indirect. We’ve got defense industries that bring a lot of those dollars in. We’ve also got as part of our military structure in Orlando – something called our Modeling, Simulation and Training Center alone brings in about $5 billion a year.”

Enterprise Florida and Expanding Florida’s Defense Industry

“Enterprise Florida is the economic development agency for the state of Florida and it’s interesting because military and defense is such a big part of the economy, and we have connections with Enterprise Florida through our economic development organizations around the state. Many of those have military affairs committees and the chambers are involved. Everyone understands how important the military and defense industry is to the state of Florida and they want to support it. Not only keep it, but grow it.”

Why Florida is an Attractive Place for Military, Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans

“The Florida model we hold up to other states is really an example of how … to support military and defense in your state. It consists of four different components.”

  • “The first is the Governor’s support, particularly in holding base commander’s meetings on a regular basis.”
  • “The second element is something called the Florida Defense Support Task Force that is a state level authorized, mandated council, commission that meets every month, is well funded by the legislature and handles all those issues that protect our bases.”
  • “The next element, the third one is the Florida Defense Alliance. … What it’s done is brought together communities, all these local defense communities… and allows those folks to get together to best support military and defense in this state.”
  • “Fourth and lastly, Florida has been very consistent and very supportive over the years in supporting defense grants. These grants help with projects but also with relationships over time that allow our bases to remain strong.”

Ripple Effect of Florida Military Bases

“Even if a community doesn’t have a base nearby, those bases have a residual impact like a pebble in the water in terms of the ripples going out. And so they touch many, many other communities around. And as said before, as military defense is the number two driver in the state… that touches all the counties in the state.”

The Business Case for Military, Defense & Homeland Security

“We in Florida are blessed to have 20 military installations. Those military installations and all the attendant military and defense businesses bring in $84.9 billion worth of economic impact to the state of Florida. Not only that, they create over 800,000 jobs for Floridians. We are very lucky because we have these bases. We also have a very vibrant veteran’s community – about a million and a half veterans. And a very, very strong defense industry highlighted by our people in Orlando where there is a Modeling, Simulation and Training Center that is unlike any place in the world.”

Keeping Florida Military Friendly

“We have local defense communities all around this state that are normally right around our military bases and as you can understand they are connected to those bases and they support all the military members and their families. And they have done things over the years to help make life easier for the military families.”

“We pride ourselves on being the most military friendly state as evidenced by many of the laws Florida has passed that would in fact, help not only military members, but their families. It gives them some advantages that they don’t have in other states. We hear all the time how friendly Florida is – not only the laws – but also the people in the communities are very welcoming to them.”

Florida’s Reinvestment Grants

“The Governor just announced $2.9 million worth of defense grants. They include defense infrastructure grants that go towards projects and reinvestment grants that go towards relationships and with the military bases and communities. So they have been particularly effective because they have been going since about 1998.”

The Purpose of the Governor’s Initiative on Lawyers Assisting Warriors (GI LAW)

“We’re very fortunate that the Governor himself served in uniform in the United States Navy as a JAG officer.  One of his initiatives that just came into fruition in the last month or so is something called GI LAW. That stands for GI Lawyers Assisting Warriors. Essentially it is pro bono legal assistance for military members and their families. Should a military member have a legal issue that he or she needs to address, they can go to one of five law firms from around the state who will pick up that case pro bono and help that service man or women.”

Enterprise Florida and Expanding Military, Defense & Homeland Security

“We have a business development section who works this. In fact they have one person dedicated just to expanding the defense industry in Florida. We continue to bring more jobs, more industry and more businesses to our already robust defense industry in Florida.”

Florida: The Home of Space

“Governor DeSantis has made it a priority in trying to acquire either the Space Command or the Space Force to the state of Florida. We are the home of space. As the Governor says, it’s in our DNA and we have all those facilities on the Cape that launch and make commercial launches and military launches and have for many, many years. So it’s a natural fit for Florida.”