By BOBBIE O'BRIEN
September 9, 2016
Florida already promotes itself as the “number one veteran friendly state” and “number one in military readiness”. While those “number one” claims aren’t easily measured, the state has been proactive on measures to hang onto its 20 military installations.
The two main economic drivers in Florida are tourism and agriculture, but you can’t ignore the military. From military bases and defense contractors to 1.6 million veterans living in the state, the military contributes nearly 10 percent to the Florida economy.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam speakingat the Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit.BOBBIE O'BRIEN / WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA
That’s why protecting those military assets has become the mission of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, business leaders and elected officials.
They gathered recently for a Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunity Summit in Clearwater to prepare for a new round of base closures.
Although Congress has yet to agree to a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round, experts say it’s just a matter of time. And Florida wants to be prepared.
“Unfortunately, people are not fully aware of what’s going on with base realignments because a lot of it is happening in D.C. behind closed doors,” said Tony Carvajal, executive vice president with the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “What is already happening is what we call the invisible BRAC, changes reassignments, relocations across the state.”
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