Tallahassee, Fla. —Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that $324,277 has been awarded through the Florida Defense Support Task Force (FDSTF) Grant Program to two projects to strengthen veteran suicide prevention and to fund the Bay County Tyndall Air Force Base Rebuild and Community Partnership Support. The awards were given to the Northeast Florida Firewatch Council and the Bay County Board of County Commissioners. This grant award combined with the previous awards in 2020 result in a $1,574,277 commitment by the FDSTF to Florida’s defense communities. Florida’s military and defense industry contributes more than $95 billion in economic impact and the industry supports more than 914,000 jobs in Florida which is the second largest economic sector in the state. 
“These Florida Defense Support Task Force grant awards will directly support those who serve our country and protect our freedom each and every day,” said Governor DeSantis. “Combined with the previous round of awards, we have now invested more than $1.5 million in Florida’s military communities since 2020. I am proud to lead the most military-friendly state in the country and I remain dedicated to supporting our service members and their families.”
“With the announcement of these grant awards, Governor DeSantis further solidifies his commitment to providing support for Florida’s military and its installations,” said Secretary of Commerce Jamal Sowell, president and CEO of Enterprise Florida. “These vital investments will prove to enhance the lives of those who serve and protect our freedom. I look forward to seeing the great accomplishments and breakthroughs that will result from this much-needed funding.” 
Grant funding will support community projects at Florida military installations that will diversify local economies, provide support for local infrastructure projects, and strengthen Florida’s bases ahead of any potential Department of Defense realignment or closure actions. For more information on the individual grant award for projects throughout the state, see below: 
Northeast Florida Fire Watch Council:  $160,000 Defense Grant
$160,000 was awarded to the Northeast Florida Fire Watch Council to fund educational programming, the Northeast Florida Military & Veteran Resources Guide, and a Micro Grant program to strengthen of suicide prevention in Northeast Florida. This grant will improve the state’s military friendly environment for service members, military dependents, and military retirees and deepen community support for Northeast Florida veterans.
“A generous grant from the Florida Defense Support Task Force will help The Fire Watch deliver its veteran suicide prevention mission, said Nick Howland, Executive Director of the Northeast Florida Fire Watch Council. “The grant will support Educational and Outreach programs focused on increasing awareness of veteran suicide, engaging the community and encouraging veterans to access the resources available to them in our region and Resource Coordination programs designed to identify and close weaknesses in those resources and services.” 
Bay County:  $164,277 Defense Grant
$164,277 was awarded to the Bay County Board of County Commissioners to support the ongoing rebuilding of Tyndall Air Force Base. It allows for continued support in helping facilitate the beddown of new F-35 and possible MQ-9 missions. It focuses on continuing community involvement, increasing communication with surrounding communities, identifying funding available for future grant opportunities, and providing briefings to develop strategies and best practices for new potential growth.
“This partnership with the FDSTF is yet another example of our strong focus on working with Tyndall leadership in rebuilding from the effects of Hurricane Michael, said Robert Carroll, Chairman of the Bay County Board of County Commissioners. “We are committed to facilitating communication and developing mission growth and community partnership opportunities for long-term military and defense resiliency.” 
The Florida Defense Support Task Force was created in 2011 with the mission to make recommendations to preserve and protect military installations, support the state’s position in research and development related to military missions and contracting, and improve the state’s military-friendly environment for service members, military families, veterans, and businesses that bring military and defense-related jobs to the state. 
The Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program is administered by Enterprise Florida and grants are awarded annually, on a project priority basis. For more information on the Florida Defense Support Task Force, visit www.eflorida.com/floridadefense

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