U.S. Coast Guard vessels docked in Biscayne Bay in the Port of Miami.

U.S. Coast Guard vessels docked in Biscayne Bay in the Port of Miami.

Florida’s 20 major military installations, three combat command centers and numerous research grant recipients support 914,787 jobs and generate an annual economic impact of $95 billion, making national defense one of the Sunshine State’s most important industries.

According to the "2020 Florida Military & Defense Economic Impact Study," defense-related expenditures in Florida have increased by $10 billion and employment by 113,040 since 2017.

“The results of this study demonstrate that maintaining and protecting military bases and industry in Florida is a win-win for both Florida and the United States,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement following the release of the report by Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) and the Florida Defense Support Task Force (FDSTF).

“Florida offers unmatched conditions for training air and sea forces with access to some of the highest quality test and training ranges in the country,” added DeSantis, a Navy veteran. “Florida’s military and defense

industry has never been more vital to the economic success of our state.”

According to the report, Florida’s 73,000 defense contractors garner the fourth-largest sum of defense spending among all states and, with nearly 135,000 active duty military, National Guard and reservists, the state ranks fifth in the number of military personnel stationed or living there.

Direct military spending was nearly $44 billion in 2018, which the report calculates via a “multiplier effect” translated into $95 billion of overall economic impact in 2019.

By comparison, tourism, the state’s leading industry in 2017, contributed $85.9 billion to the state’s economy and supported 1.5 million jobs.

According to the report, the defense sector has the greatest impact on Northwest Florida, where one-third of the regional economy comes from

military spending.

Additionally, the report states, defense manufacturing has nearly doubled since 2015 with the aerospace and engineering sectors centered in

Brevard and Orange Counties leading the way.

One example of that growing economic influence is the Department of Defense’s Industrial Base Analysis & Sustainment office's $20 million

contract awarded in 2019 to BRIDG, a public-private partnership in Osceola County “to provide a new technology for next-generation microelectronic multi-chip systems that will strengthen national security and cyber resiliency for the United States defense industrial base.”

The report also notes that Florida, with 1.6 million residents who are veterans, has the nation’s second-largest military retiree population and the third-largest veteran population.

The report follows a 2018 research paper by Connor James of the

Tallahassee-Based James Madison Institute that documented the state’s 17,900 defense-related companies and military spending accounts for 9.2 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.

“In 2016, the Florida Chamber Foundation said that the military and

defense industry’s total economic impact may be over $100 billion by 2030,” James wrote.

That $100 billion estimate by 2030 may have been a bit conservative.

“This announcement is great news for Florida,” said Florida Secretary of Commerce and Enterprise Florida President & CEO Jamal Sowell, a former Marine officer. “Enterprise Florida and the Florida Defense Support Task Force will continue to maintain Florida’s reputation as the most military-friendly state in the nation by strengthening our state’s support for military members,

ensuring our bases remain resilient.”

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