Military Valued During, After Service

By Ron Poland, Director of Operations, Jacksonville Programs for Boeing, Defense, Space & Security

Published in the Orlando Sentinel, August 12, 2014

Throughout the country, we honor military members, veterans and defense workers for their service to the nation. Their efforts enhance national security and contribute to the vitality of local economies across the United States.

Currently, 1.6 million veterans call Florida home. More than 85,000 military and civilian personnel and 750,000 jobs contribute more than $70 billion to our economy. With 20 major military installations, Florida’s armed-services and defense companies are vital economic contributors. In 2013, Florida’s economy surpassed $800 billion, in part because of the contributions of those military installations and the diverse businesses supporting defense programs.

Despite success, we face an uncertain future due to sequestrations and federal budget debates. With many businesses relying on defense contracts and subcontracts, working together will determine how we maintain positive momentum beyond 2030.

To read the complete opinion editorial, please visit the Orlando Sentinel’s website.


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.