Rep. Gayle Harrell Discusses Veteran Issues

“We are going to continue down the road we have been on in making Florida the most veteran friendly state.”

-Representative Gayle Harrell


Did you know, nearly 10 percent of Florida’s economy is linked to the military and defense industries? Florida also has more than 1.5 million veterans in our state. On the recent edition of The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line, Representative Gayle Harrell discusses the importance of veterans and the skills they bring to Florida.

“We are going to continue down the road we have been on in making Florida the most veteran friendly state.”

Learn what the Florida Chamber is doing in these areas by clicking on the link below:


Military & Defense Industry Contributes Nearly $80 Billion to Florida’s Economy

Florida’s military and defense industry not only keeps us safe, it also drives the state’s economic growth by contributing an estimated $79.8 billion to the economy and providing nearly 775,000 jobs for Floridians each year. Every business in Florida is within 100 miles of a military installation, providing growth opportunities for defense companies and creating a robust network of businesses in the military and defense supply chain. Is your job tied to the military economy?

As highlighted in a recent Florida Wins video, Florida’s military and defense industry not only creates high-wage, high skill jobs, it attracts some of the world’s leading innovators to create new products that improve our daily lives and advance the state’s innovation economy. With the industry’s total economic impact expected to grow to $100 billion a year by 2030, how will we ensure continued support of this vital sector?

Florida is the #1 State for Aviation/Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness

With more than 2,000 aviation and aerospace companies calling Florida home, a competitive business climate and a talent pool of 80,000, it’s easy to see why PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) ranked Florida as the top state for aviation and aerospace manufacturing attractiveness for 2015.

Aviation and aerospace is a vital market not only because it supports Florida’s military and defense economy, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of the state’s GDP, but also because of the high-skill, high-wage jobs it creates. With 2 million more jobs needed by 2030, these are the types of jobs Florida needs to diversify and expand our economy in the future.

“Florida’s unique history of spaceflight, coupled with its geographic advantages and highly-skilled workforce, make the state an ideal location for aviation and aerospace manufacturing,” said Jim Kuzma, Chief Operating Officer of Space Florida. “We must continue to attract aviation and aerospace companies and grow existing Florida companies to ensure the state remains a global competitor in this important industry.”

Get Involved

Jim Kuzma and other industry experts will lead discussions on finding solutions to the challenges that face Florida’s military and defense industry at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit on Thursday, August 6, in Orlando. Today is the last day to register for this event.

Florida Group Meeting on Growth Strategies for Defense Industry

By Howard Altman | Tribune Staff

Published in The Tampa Tribune, August 12, 2014

In 2012, military spending in the three-county Tampa region accounted for nearly $14 billion in economic output, 141,000 jobs and represented about 7 percent of the economies of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties, according to the Florida Chamber Foundation.

Statewide, defense spending brought in about $70 billion, or about 10 percent of the gross domestic product that year, according to the foundation’s recently released Industry Analysis: Military & Defense report. That translated into more than 750,000 jobs statewide, according to the report, which also shows that there are about 85,000 military and civilian personnel living in Florida.

But with downward pressure on Pentagon spending, the possibility of future rounds of automatic defense cuts and the looming end of combat operations in Afghanistan, the Florida Chamber is holding a meeting in Orlando tomorrow to help figure out a way forward.

“I think the takeaway is the expansion and maintaining of military and defense industry in the state is a vital element of Florida’s future prosperity,” said Sal Nuzzo, the foundation’s research and public policy manager. “That specifically is particularly felt in the Tampa area, with MacDill Air Force Base and Avon Park. They are very tied into the local economy.”

Nuzzo said the Florida Chamber Foundation Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit is aimed at bringing together local economic development professionals, policy makers and politicians to develop strategies for growth.

The trendlines for the defense sector are not encouraging.

Defense spending in the state dropped by about $3 billion over three years, the Florida Defense Contractors Association told The Tribune in June. That represents about a 20 percent cut since 2010, when more than $14 billion in military contracts were awarded.

Last year, that translated into about 1,500 job losses statewide, according to association president Joe Marino.

And that is just from companies of 100 or more, said Marino.

The real effect could be even deeper, he said, because smaller companies do not have to file notices with the Department of Economic Opportunity, which the association used to gather its figures.

Nuzzo said the conference has two main goals — encouraging continued military economic development and continued growth of the Florida veteran population, which is now about 1.5 million.

“It is not just the presence of military installations in the state that bring in money,” he said. “There are all the support services and the civilian workforce that comes with installations. The surrounding economy has a tremendous boost because of the presence of a military installation.”

MacDill, for instance, pumps about $5 billion a year into the local economy, according to base officials.

Having veterans in the state is a huge economic boon, said Steve Murray, spokesman for the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The state receives about $15.7 billion annually because of veterans,” he said. “That’s federal money through the GI Bill, compensation and pension insurance, construction money and military retirement pay.”

Mike Prendergast, the department’s executive director, is on the list of speakers that includes U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee,

“As home to more than 1.5 million veterans and one of the nation’s top military states, defense and veterans issues are integral to Florida’s economy and workforce,” said Miller in an email to the Tribune. “The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit is a great chance to gather with leaders from these communities to discuss the vital role our veterans and defense-related industries will play in Florida’s future.”

Rich McClain, executive director of the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance, which works to grow the local defense industry, said the Florida Chamber is on the right track.

“I applaud the Florida Chamber for their initiatives designed to support and secure the defense industry for the state of Florida and our own Tampa Bay Region,” he said. “As we look to the future, with the upcoming defense budget cuts, now is the time to go on the offensive. We, as a team, need to promote the many capabilities and talents we have within our local community, from MacDill to high tech to major medical to our small business defense experts. Tampa Bay represents the best-of-the-best and we should strategically and positively promote this with not only key decision makers within government and industry, but with the general public at large.”

The summit runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hyatt Regency Orlando, International Airport, 9300 Jeff Fuqua Blvd., Orlando.

The Statewide Impact of Florida’s Military Economy is More Than $70 Billion

With the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit just two days away, this week’s special edition Did You Know? features an industry analysis on the military and defense industries. Read below for highlights from the analysis and click here to access the full length report.

Florida’s military industry is robust, formidable and impactful. Installations from Pensacola to Jacksonville and down to Key West place Florida among the most strategically important states for the U.S. armed forces. In fact, every business in Florida is within 100 miles of a military installation. With billions of dollars in economic activity, hundreds of thousands of jobs and an infrastructure that supports it all, Florida’s future is intertwined with its military and defense industry.



Looking Ahead

With nine percent of Florida’s economy tied to military and defense, maintaining and expanding this industry is imperative to our state’s future prosperity. Current projections for overall economic growth show maintaining the industry’s current share would bring the total impact from $70 billion to more than $100 billion per year by 2030. However, military drawdown, sequestration, federal budget cuts, and the changing scope of our armed forces over time pose a potential challenge to Florida’s military infrastructure moving forward. Projections indicate Florida’s veteran population will grow to 1.9 million by 2030, up from 1.5 million. Career readiness, healthcare delivery, training and infrastructure initiatives need to be able to address the unique nature of educating, training, employing and caring for this group of citizens. Our state’s ability to rise to the challenge will solidify our position as the most veteran-friendly state in the U.S.


Three Ways You Can Help Secure Florida’s Future

  1. Register onsite for the Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit this Wednesday, August 13 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando – International Airport located at 9300 Jeff Fuqua Blvd., Orlando, FL 32827. The event will bring together leaders from Florida’s military and defense industry, economic development experts, policymakers and the business community to look at ways to grow and protect this vital industry.
  2. Join us at the 2014 Future of Florida Forum, September 29 – October 1. Join state business leaders, industry experts and elected officials as they discuss and explore how to secure Florida’s future. This year’s program features top level executives and identifies connection points and partnerships that will make Florida a state with vibrant communities, high-wage jobs and endless opportunities for global competitiveness. Register today and be part of the conversations that will help Florida stand out as the premier place to live, learn, work and raise a family.
  3. Become a Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee and help provide a strategic direction for Florida’s future, to 2030 and beyond.



About the Florida Scorecard Did You Know:

The Florida Scorecard, located at, presents metrics across Florida’s economy. Each week, the Florida Chamber Foundation produces a Scorecard Did You Know that takes an in-depth look at one specific statistic.

Military and Defense Contributes $70 Billion to Florida’s Economy

When the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, Florida was almost 70 years away from being a state? Today, Florida is on the brink of becoming the third most populous state and is currently home to 20 military installations, spanning from Pensacola to Jacksonville, and down to Key West.

Military installations are vital to Florida’s future and contribute more than $70 billion to Florida’s economy – more than nine percent of our total gross state product. Every single business in the Sunshine State is within 100 miles of a military installation and the economic footprint of the military and defense industry touches all of us.

Tomorrow, the Fourth of July, marks the 238th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, when a group of American colonists formally declared, under the penalty of execution, they would no longer be governed by the British. In the time of George Washington, colonists mainly fought the British with small, relatively unorganized militias. Today, however, the United States has greatly advanced and is widely recognized as possessing the greatest fighting force in history.

The military and defense industry is now a crucial element of Florida’s overall economy and our future prosperity. Twenty major installations call Florida home, including U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) – where both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were directed. With more than 85,000 military/civilian personnel and 750,000 jobs created by the military and defense industry in Florida, the health of this industry and the health of our economy are related.

“The military and defense economy play a significant role in Florida’s prosperity and global competitiveness, and it is of paramount importance we rally around the high-wage jobs, high-tech jobs and military veteran workforce the industry provides,” said Joe Marino, President of the Florida Defense Contractors Association. “Our biggest challenge remains the unpredictable federal budget. The drawdown of the wars, federal budget sequestration, and via continuing resolutions funding for many years have created an unprecedented level of uncertainty. Defense businesses large to small are unable to create new jobs and sustain their sector of the economy in this uncertain environment, as evidenced in total procurement awards down to $11 billion from $14 billion in 2010 in Florida. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Florida businesses earn defense revenue as prime contractors or subcontractors, and all job creators in the state need to work together to address this challenge.”

How to Help:

Register to attend the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit on August 13. Plan to join us in Orlando with elected leaders, industry executives, policymakers, business leaders and economic development experts from throughout the state to dive into how Florida retains its key position through 2030 and beyond.


About the Florida Scorecard Stat:

The Florida Scorecard presents metrics across Florida’s economy. Each week, the Florida Chamber Foundation produces a Scorecard Did You Know that takes an in-depth look at one specific component of Florida’s economy.