Santa Rosa County was a big winner in the latest round of state-funded grants aimed at helping retain and protect US military installations in local communities. The county was awarded a quarter of the $2.4 million in total funding available through the Defense Infrastructure Grant (DIG) and the Defense Reinvestment Grant (DRG) programs.
Commission Chairman Bob Cole, District 2, congratulated his colleagues and county staff for identifying the grant opportunities and finding innovative ways to access the funding. He added that the state deserves credit for recognizing the importance of the military’s direct and indirect contribution to the communities they call home.
“We respect and appreciate the women and men who serve in our armed forces,” Commissioner Cole said. “They fight to protect our families and our interests abroad, so we’re proud to fight for them and their families here at home. And it’s great that Governor DeSantis and the Department of Economic Opportunity have our back as we do so.”
From the DIG Program, the Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners received $483,000 to continue restrictive-use easement property purchases around Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field to ensure operational sustainability. In essence, this prevents too much or inappropriate types of construction or land uses that are incompatible with NAS Whiting Field both now and for the future.
The county also received $120,000 from the DRG program to assess 5G services and implementation, as well as to establish a resiliency scorecard for military-community initiatives that enhance and protect military missions. The purpose of this program is to provide a way to make sure that the community prioritizes local projects and amenities that are beneficial to taxpayers and compatible with the mission of the military. Community-wide availability of 5G communication is one such example.
“The beauty of these grants is that they make good common sense for Santa Rosa County, for our taxpayers, and for our military,” Commissioner Cole added. “We’re making our community better for all of our people by making it better for our service members.”
Shannon Ogletree, executive director of the Santa Rosa Economic Development Office (SREDO) said that his office has already begun coordinating with state and local officials and expects the process for implementing the programs will move quickly.