Military & Defense Industry Key to Moving Florida From 17th Largest Economy to 10th Largest Economy in the World

By: Edie Ousley

Major General Highlights Oil Drilling Moratorium Expiration, Tyndall AFB Rebuild

Jacksonville, Fla. (August 13, 2019) – Florida’s defense industry is playing a major role in efforts to grow Florida from its current 17th largest economy in the world to the 10th largest economy, the Florida Chamber Foundation announced today during the 2019 Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit.

“We want to see Florida grow from the 17th largest economy in the world to 10th largest economy, and the defense industry will help diversify and help fuel this growth,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Florida is one of the most strategically important states for the U.S. Armed Forces with 20 major military installations, three combat command centers and thousands of defense contractors supporting more than 800,000 Florida jobs. And discussions on expanding the military and defense industry and supporting Florida’s growing veterans’ population are topping discussions during the first day of the summit taking place in Jacksonville.

 
Both Wilson and Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.) Michael D. Jones, a headlining speaker, focused on how the 2022 expiration of the moratorium on oil drilling could be harmful to Florida’s military bases.

“Think about the importance of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. If you’ve not been following what Congress is not doing, the moratorium on oil drilling ends in 2022. If Congress doesn’t deal with the moratorium expiring in 2022, we could have drilling nine miles off our coast,” Wilson added.

Major General Jones also urged Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit attendees to remain vigilant on the rebuilding of Tyndall Air Force Base. He noted that there is a commitment to rebuilding Tyndall though the reality is we need to be cautious. “If we don’t think there are others out there who are competing, who would like to see those F-35 squadrons go elsewhere, I think we’re being naïve,” he said. 

Featured speakers for Day 1 include:

  • Lt. Col Mike Askegren, Base Civil Engineer, Tyndall Air Force Base
  • Greg Britton, Interim Director, DefenseWerx
  • Danny Burgess, Executive Director, Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Kevin Carr, CEO, FloridaMakes
  • George Cheros, President and CEO, National Center for Simulation
  • Daniel Davis, President and CEO, JAX Chamber
  • Frank DiBello, President and CEO, Space Florida
  • Jane Dowgwillo, PTAC State Manager, Florida SBDC Network
  • Warren Helm, Director and Site Leader for Cecil Field MRO Operations, Boeing
  • Major General (Ret.) Michael Jones, The SPECTRUM Group
  • Tim Jones, Pesident and CEO, Cybrix Group; Florida Defense Alliance
  • Kellie Jo Kilberg, Vice President, Randy Wise Homes; Chair, Florida Defense Alliance
  • Belinda Keiser, Vice Chancellor of Community Relations and Student Advancement, Keiser University; Space Florida Board of Directors
  • Joe Marino, Executive Director, Veterans Florida
  • Mel Ponder, House of Representatives, District 4
  • Bill Reuter, President, R-Squared Solutions
  • Jamal Sowell, President & CEO, Enterprise Florida
  • Kay Schwartz, Executive Director, Regional HR Operations, USAA


Tomorrow, Day 2 will include a special focus on Florida’s military communities, and a legislative discussion on expanding Florida’s military and defense industry and supporting Florida’s growing veteran population.

Featured speakers will include:

  • Doug Broxson, Florida Senate, District 1
  • Mona Dexter, Senior Director, Operations and Communications, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
  • Ken Lawson, Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
  • David Smith, House of Representatives, District 28
  • Tom Wright, Florida Senate, District 14