Military, Defense Vital to State
By Ron Poland
Published in the Pensacola News Journal, August 13, 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. Florida’s armed services and defense companies are vital economic contributors. In 2013, Florida’s economy passed $800 billion for the first time, due in large part to the contributions of those military installations and the diverse businesses supporting defense programs. Despite success, we face an uncertain future due to sequestrations and ongoing federal budget debates. With many Florida businesses relying on defense contracts and subcontracts, working together will determine how we maintain positive momentum now and well beyond 2030.
The Florida Chamber Foundation focuses on identifying solutions to these challenges. Given the vital contribution military and defense makes to Florida, and Florida’s commitment to veterans, the Chamber Foundation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce have supported initiatives that allow Florida’s military, defense and veteran population the ability to live, work and learn in our state. Such initiatives, like the Florida GI Bill, strengthen our state’s military bonds while working to expand and diversify our economy.
The Boeing Company has been committed to supporting our nation’s military personnel, veterans and their families. We recognize service in defense of a nation is an enduring mission and for many, continues beyond their military service. These individuals have skills, experience, integrity and leadership acumen, and we’re working hard as a company to match their skills and experiences to our needs.
We also have more than 23,000 employee veterans across the country and work with organizations like National Veterans Homeless Support, Work Vessels for Veterans, and others to provide support to reduce and eliminate veteran homelessness, give veteran-owned businesses the tools and resources needed, and offer veterans the ability to serve their country in new ways.
Efforts like these, and those of organizations like the Chamber Foundation, will help ensure a prosperous future for the state, and the military and defense industry on which it depends.
Ron Poland is director of operations, Jacksonville Programs, for Boeing Defense, Space & Security.