Supporting Florida’s Veterans, Defense and Military Industry


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Why It Matters to Florida

From small, family owned industries to multi-national corporations, Florida wins when private-sector job growth aligns with employer needs. Florida’s well-rounded military and defense industry creates highly-trained, highlyskilled workers each and every day. Florida has the third largest population of veterans in the nation at more than 1.5 million — 14 percent of the Sunshine State’s population. In fact, nearly one in every 10 Floridians is a veteran and Florida’s military and defense industry is the fourth largest contributor to Florida’s economy.

Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda

Championing Florida’s valuable veteran population by advocating for our state’s military and defense industry and opposing cuts that disproportionately impact Florida’s economy will allow Florida’s 20 active military bases and three combatant command centers, and Florida’s defense contractors to provide valuable high-wage jobs and grow Florida’s economy. In an effort to lead the nation in defense and cybersecurity, the Florida Chamber of Commerce supports initiatives and policies that protect Florida’s businesses and strengthens Florida’s defenses both on land and online.

The Fight for Free Enterprise Continues

Florida’s military and defense industry helps employ nearly 775,000 Floridians each year and contributes almost $80 billion to our economy. Our state is also home to more than 20 military bases and three combatant command centers. The Florida Chamber will continue to support efforts to keep Florida the most military and veteran-friendly state by supporting efforts that protect from the next round of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure).

Act Now

Join our fight to protect our active military and defense industry. Florida wins when we stay the course toward free enterprise and support our state’s veterans.

Attorney General Bondi Recognizes Military Consumer Protection Month with Tips for Veterans and Service Members

Attorney General Pam Bondi is recognizing Military Consumer Protection Month with tips for active-duty military, veterans and their families. This year’s Military Consumer Protection Month is dedicated to raising awareness about scams targeting or harming those who serve our country. Floridians generously donate to military and veterans’ charities. However, not all charities are legitimate. Some solicit donations by falsely promising to provide services to our military and veterans.

“I am honored that so many members of our Armed Forces and military veterans call Florida home. As a state, we need to do everything in our power to protect those who risk so much to protect us,” said Attorney General Bondi. “Last year we launched our Military and Veterans Assistance Program to provide additional resources to our brave service members, veterans and their families, and we will continue to do everything we can to make Florida the best state for our military heroes.” More

Attorney General Bondi meeting with her Orlando consumer protection team who worked tirelessly on the Donate With Honor campaign. One of the sham charities shutdown as a result of the nationwide campaign operated out of Orlando.

Pictured above from left to right are Assistant Chief Attorney General Donna Valin, Christopher Bethune, Jennifer Knutton, Annaliese Bullock, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Corrine Cardona, who is eight months pregnant with twins (soon to be the newest members of our work family), Kathleen Linnemeier, Juliette Norwood and Kim Anderson.

A Message to Businesses, From a Veteran Leader


What do veterans need, and how do businesses and communities play a vital role in their success?

Executive Director of Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs shares his thoughts


“We are doing an excellent job of making military and veterans welcome— we are doing great things at finding jobs for them, making sure that they fit into their communities. Probably the thing that we need to continue to do is stay on the cutting edge of finding out, what does the veteran really need from the state of Florida? Not what the feds are supposed to do for them, but what can the state of Florida do that might make it a little bit easier or more attractive to come to Florida, without being detrimental to the state of Florida.”

More than 1.5 million veterans call Florida home and between now and 2030, more are expected to call Florida home. Veterans have skill sets that directly translate into the workforce needs of high-wage jobs. So how do we ensure Florida’s veterans have access to job opportunities?

“It’s making people aware of what we do have in the state of Florida. It takes you six months to get into the military and we put you out in less than 2 weeks, and that’s quite a transition coming down here. The whole thing is making sure we are getting information for instance… Bobby Carbonell and his Florida veterans, they are reaching out to try to make sure that the job market matches what the soldier or the military person is bringing to the table. And, we just need to constantly make sure that our communities and our counties are actually putting the information out of what they need in there.”

Next week, Florida’s businesses, policy makers and industry leaders will join us for the annual Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit. When asked what the one thing that he hopes business leaders will take from the event, the answer was clear:

“How to bring a veteran into your business. A veteran is used to being part of a tribe… when you bring them into your company, bring them into the company- make them part of the family. Companies that do that or think about how to that, the ways they can bring them in and assimilate them easier, makes it much better for our veterans. I hope that they continue to market the need for veterans and hiring more veterans.”


Join us next week in Orlando at Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense & Veterans Opporuntiees Summit. It’s not too late to register!

Why Hiring Veterans Matters

By: Bobby Carbonell, Executive Director, Veterans Florida

Every business has a need for a talented workforce and today’s veterans are a great fit for any company looking for hard-working, intelligent men and women with a unique mission-focused attitude.  Veterans Florida is here to help your business recruit, hire and train America’s best talent resource, our veterans.

Veterans Florida is a non-profit corporation created by the State of Florida to help veterans fully transition to civilian life in the Sunshine State.  We connect veterans to employers, grant funds to employers to hire and train veterans, and educate veterans on how to open their own businesses in the Florida.

Why hire veterans?  According to research conducted by Veterans Florida, hiring agents report that veterans rate significantly higher for productivity, reduced turnover and reduced training needs as compared to their civilian peers.


Whether you are hiring your first veteran or you’re a seasoned veteran-friendly employer, we can help you.

The Veterans Florida Business Training Grant program provides funding to qualifying businesses to train their new, full-time veteran employees. Funding is provided in the form of a performance-based reimbursable grant, for a 12-month maximum term per new veteran employee. A business is reimbursed by Veterans Florida for 50% of the training cost per veteran employee, with a maximum amount of $8,000 per employee.

The Veterans Florida Career Portal was recently launched as a way to connect veterans who live or would like to move to Florida with employers in the state.  Businesses can register for a free account on our website, which gives them the ability to post their job announcements and search our resume database.

Veterans Florida’s comprehensive, nationwide advertising campaign draws hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families to our website to learn more about the benefits and opportunities available for them in the Sunshine State.  By working with Veterans Florida, your business can tap into this audience and recruit from America’s best talent resource:  our veterans.

Our Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program helped over 160 veterans start their own businesses in 2016 and we’re gearing up to start the next program in January.  The program is always in need of business owners to serve as mentors and resources for our entrepreneurs in training.  Florida business owners and leaders who wish to volunteer can reach out to Veterans Florida to find out more.

Businesses can find and connect with Veterans Florida online at

1 in Every 13 Floridians is a Veteran

Florida is one of the most veteran-friendly states in the nation, with almost 1.5 million veterans calling it home. According to the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, 12 percent of Florida’s population 18 and over has served in action. With Florida’s population expected to increase by 6 million residents by 2030, more private sector job creation will be needed as former military transition into the state’s civilian workforce.

The good news is that veterans are trained in more than 100 occupational specialties across the spectrum and possess the leadership qualities, soft skills and loyalty that most employers are looking for. This presents a tremendous opportunity for Florida’s private-sector businesses looking to fill jobs with trained professionals.

“Gulf Power, along with Florida’s active and growing business community, is committed to recruiting veterans for high-wage, high-skill jobs,” said Stan Connally, President and CEO at Gulf Power. “Veterans from all branches of the military bring skill sets that match up well with Gulf Power.”

Veterans are just part of the overall effect military and defense investment have on Florida’s economic growth. Nearly 10 percent of Florida’s GDP is tied to the military economy, resulting in an estimated $73 billion impact and 758,000 jobs for Floridians.

Get Involved:

  • To be part of the conversation on issues affecting veterans and discuss the opportunities in Florida’s defense and military industries, register today for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit on August 6 in Orlando.
  • To learn more about military innovation and the impact on Florida’s economic development, register today to attend the Future of Florida Forum on September 28-30 in Orlando.

More Than 1.5 Million Veterans Call Florida Home

More than 1.5 million veterans call Florida home. Ten percent of Florida vets are women and one of every 13 Floridians is a veteran. With number like these, it’s no wonder that Florida is one of the most veteran-friendly states in the nation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 marks 60 years since Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day to honor those who served in American wars. While American wars continue, there is at least one battlefront on which we have made progress – Hiring Our Heroes.

Florida’s efforts to be the most veteran friendly state in the union have included proactively encouraging businesses to hire veterans. And it’s working.

Today, unemployment among veterans is less than half of what it was in 2010. In fact, Florida’s veteran unemployment rate stands at 6.1 percent – below the state and national average.

Florida has made great strides to ensure its veterans receive the information and resources they need:

  • The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs provides information on services designed to help veterans with everything from education and workforce training to health care and housing. A copy of the Florida Veteran’s Benefits guide is available by clicking here, and a free mobile app is also available by clicking here.
  • The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and its Veterans Employment Programs offers a menu of services and promotes the employment of Florida’s veterans, especially veterans with barriers to employment. Included in these resources is the Employ Florida Vets Portal, a gateway to information and resource links that will assist veterans, veterans’ families and employers in matching veterans seeking employment with employers and employment-related services.

“I join all Floridians and Americans in thanking each of our warriors, past and present, for the sacrifices they made to protect the freedoms and values of this country,” said Pam Rauch, Chair of the Florida Chamber Foundation Board of Trustees and Vice President of Development and External Affairs for Florida Power and Light Company. “It is their willingness to serve, their unwavering commitment to the ideals this country was founded on, and the spirit of perseverance that strengthens and helps protect this country and its citizens.”

Does your business employ veterans? How can your experience help other businesses identify opportunities for veterans?


About the Florida Scorecard Did You Know:

The Florida Scorecard, located at, presents metrics across Florida’s economy. The Florida Chamber Foundation routinely produces a Scorecard Stat that takes an in-depth look at one specific statistic. If you would like additional information on the Weekly Scorecard Stat or on the Florida Scorecard, please contact Tracey Lowe with the Florida Chamber Foundation at 850.521.1226 or

The Military in Florida – 2030 and Beyond

If you missed our annual Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit, click here to view presentations and a meeting overview. In the meantime, be on the lookout for the dates for our next military event in 2015.

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.

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 Veterans Work Out Business Skills at UF Business Boot Camp

Authored by: MAJ Gen David E. Kratzer United States Army (Retired), Vice President of Student Affairs University of Florida

Florida is well known for its veteran and military friendly climate. With 20 active military bases and three combatant command centers working to protect our nation and create stronger communities, Florida must do more for the next stage of a veteran’s life. One of the best ways honor our veterans is to provide them with access to programs that will fill gaps in employer needs.

That’s where the University of Florida (UF) comes in. Our Veterans Entrepreneurship Program recently held a crash course in business, hosting 32 vets from across the nation for one week. The program included lectures from professors and guest entrepreneurs and covered every topic new entrepreneurs need to know to jump-start their own small business ventures.

We have a great opportunity in Florida to welcome those with specialized skills and talents. Recent legislation signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, the Florida GI Bill, makes higher education more accessible for all veterans wishing to advance their education and career in Florida.

As Florida continues to move in the right direction and groups like the Florida Chamber of Commerce continue to focus on the fight ahead, programs like those at UF will only further economic growth. We are reminded daily of the sacrifice Florida’s many veterans have made for our communities. And at UF and the Florida Chamber, we believe we can give a little back.


Get Involved:

Join us in our mission to support military and veteran initiatives by registering for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit, on August 13, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, International Airport.