To survey changes and challenges in Florida’s military industry and workforce, The Florida Chamber Foundation, a branch of Tallahassee’s Florida Chamber of Commerce, recently sponsored a Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit in St. Petersburg.
Gov. Rick Scott and numerous state leaders participated in the conference held at Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park. The list of luminaries included Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam; U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL); State Senator Jeff Brandes (R-Dist. 22) , State Reps. Paul Renner (R-Dist. 24) and Jimmie Smith (R-34 Dist.); Cissy Proctor, executive director for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, and Glenn Sutphin, executive director, Florida Department of Veteran Affairs.
“Florida’s military and defense industry puts nearly 775,000 Floridians to work each year and contributes almost $80 billion to our economy,” Florida Chamber Foundation’s EVP Tony Carvajal said. “However, Florida is expected to experience significant demographic, political and economic shifts throughout the next 15 years that will need to be addressed in order to support our veterans and bring more high-wage, high-skill jobs to Florida’s workforce.”
Topics covered included BRAC, sequestration, federal matters, veteran leadership and an assessment of Florida’s military, homeland security and defense industries. Additionally, in conjunction with the daylong event, an animated online video was released entitled “Florida Leads in Military, Defense and Homeland Security Industry.”
“The military and defense industry is a pillar of Florida’s economy, improving economic prosperity and providing jobs for thousands of Floridians,” Commissioner Putnam said. “Florida continues to be at the forefront of new innovations and technology, attracting both the companies and talent needed to grow this industry.”