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October 15, 2020 Clay County Economic Development awarded $64,500 to complete a new 5-Year Strategic Plan

CLAY COUNTY – The Clay County Economic Development Corporation will get $64,500 to pay for a new five-year economic development strategy that can address any possible setbacks created by military base downsizing.  Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced that the Department of Economic Opportunity awarded more than $2 million in funding for military-related programs through the Defense Reinvestment Grant Program and the Defense Infrastructure Grant Program. These grants provide funding to defense-dependent communities to support economic diversification efforts and military community relations.

“The grant is to strengthen the non-defense economy,” said Laura J. Pavlus, Director of Business Development and Marketing for Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation. “Primarily, it came out of the BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure], so it is to diversify the existing economy so that if there is another round of BRAC closures, your non-defense dependent community is resilient enough to overcome that.” CCEDC’s five-year strategic plan will seek alignment with Clay County, Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Clay County Development Authority, City of Keystone Heights, Keystone Heights Airport Authority, City of Green Cove Springs, Town of Orange Park and utility partners to collaboratively grow the non-defense economy.

“Specifically for Clay County, the bulk of that money will go to a new five-year economic development strategic plan,” Pavlus said. “Our last plan was completed in 2015. It was a five-year plan. So it’s time for us to do another one. That funding will go to preparing that a strategic plan for Clay County. We’ve been able to run some very successful projects with this funding.”

DeSantis said the money will be divided among 11 organizations. “During my time with the Navy, I was able to experience firsthand the tremendous impact a military installation has on its surrounding community,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “I’m proud to provide an opportunity for these organizations to continue to support and enhance the great partnerships Florida’s communities have with our military.”

“During these unprecedented times, it is imperative that we continue to support Florida’s military installations and their surrounding communities,” said Dane Eagle, Executive Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity. “Across our state, military installation communities support not only military personnel and their families, but they create jobs and opportunities for many Floridians.”

The Defense Reinvestment Grant Program provides support to community-based activities that protect existing military installations. These grants are awarded to applicants that represent a local government with a military installation that could be adversely affected by federal actions.  Other communities awarded funding through the Defense Reinvestment Grant Program include:
• Bay Defense Alliance – ($90,000) to continue rebuilding efforts from Hurricane Michael and assist Tyndall Air Force Base with community support and partnerships as the base implements new aircraft programs.
• City of Jacksonville – ($85,000) to continue efforts to bring ship loading and maintenance plans to Naval Station Mayport and work towards the continued long-term goal of infrastructure funding for the hosting of a nuclear carrier in the Jacksonville region.
• Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast – ($85,000) to build upon existing programs that enhance strong relationships and partnerships impacting mission expansion from the US Space Force, the 45th Space Wing, Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
• Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County – ($85,000) to continue efforts and strategies to encourage economic diversification through support and partnerships for the community surrounding Eglin Air Force Base through a tri county community partnership and facilitate STEM cluster development opportunities for entrepreneurs, defense contractors, and non-defense STEM sectors.
• Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce – ($80,000) to expand and create higher skilled jobs and work with those in the military community as they transition to non-defense jobs and continue to support the communities of Naval Air Station Pensacola and Naval Air Station Whiting Field.
• Miami Dade Beacon Council – ($75,000) to build on the work conducted under prior-year grants to enhance economic development, identify opportunities for economic diversification, build connectivity and grow the existing defense industry supporting Homestead Air Reserve Base, USCG Base Miami Beach, and future ARFC F-35 basing decisions.
• Orlando Economic Partnership – ($78,000) to support Naval Support Activity (NSA) Orlando, a nontraditional military
base and home to 14 federal government organizations with activities representing each of the four military branches as well as nine other organizations that are the engine that drives the $6.0 billion Modeling, Simulation, and Training (MS&T) in the state of Florida.
• Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners – ($62,500) to support military community activities surrounding Naval Air Station Whiting Field to both defense and non-defense related industries to continue pursuing corporations to utilize the joint use facilities to result in job creation and local economic diversification in the Panhandle Region.
• Tampa Bay Defense Alliance – ($55,000) to help promote, protect and develop initiatives in the area to grow the defense simulation industry in the community surrounding MacDill Air Force Base as well as supporting growth of the Special Operations Technology Industry in the Tampa Bay community.
• Walton Co. Chamber of Commerce – ($5,000) to support entrepreneurial growth and veteran support initiatives in Walton County.
The Defense Infrastructure Grant Program supports local infrastructure projects deemed to have an impact on the military value of installations within the state. Infrastructure projects to be funded under this program include those related to encroachment, transportation, and access to military installations, utilities, communications, housing, environment and security.