(1)(a) It is the intent of this state to provide the necessary means to assist communities with military installations in supporting and sustaining those installations. It is further the intent to encourage communities to initiate a coordinated program of response and plan of action in advance of future actions of the federal government relating to realignments and closures. It is critical that communities develop and implement strategies to preserve and protect military installations. The Legislature hereby recognizes that the state needs to coordinate all efforts that can support military installations throughout the state. The Legislature, therefore, declares that providing such assistance to support the defense-related initiatives within this section is a public purpose for which public money may be used.
(b) The Florida Defense Alliance, an organization within Enterprise Florida, 1Inc., is designated as the organization to ensure that Florida, its resident military bases and missions, and its military host communities are in competitive positions as the United States continues its defense realignment and downsizing. The defense alliance shall serve as an overall advisory body for defense-related activity of Enterprise Florida, Inc. The Florida Defense Alliance may receive funding from appropriations made for that purpose administered by the department.
(2) The Military Base Protection Program is created. Funds appropriated to this program may be used to address emergent needs relating to mission sustainment and base retention. All funds appropriated for the purposes of this program are eligible to be used for matching of federal funds. The department shall coordinate and implement this program.
(3)(a) The department is authorized to award grants on a competitive basis from any funds available to it to support activities related to the Florida Defense Reinvestment Grant Program and the Florida Defense Infrastructure Grant Program.
(b) The term “activities” as used in this section means studies, presentations, analyses, plans, and modeling. For the purposes of the Florida Defense Infrastructure Grant Program, the term “activities” also includes, but is not limited to, construction, land purchases, and easements. Staff salaries are not considered an “activity” for which grant funds may be awarded. Travel costs and costs incidental thereto incurred by a grant recipient shall be considered an “activity” for which grant funds may be awarded.
(c) The department shall require that an applicant:
1. Represent a local government with a military installation or military installations that could be adversely affected by federal actions.
2. Agree to match at least 30 percent of any grant awarded.
3. Prepare a coordinated program or plan of action delineating how the eligible project will be administered and accomplished.
4. Provide documentation describing the potential for changes to the mission of a military installation located in the applicant’s community and the potential impacts such changes will have on the applicant’s community.
(d) In making grant awards the department shall consider, at a minimum, the following factors:
1. The relative value of the particular military installation in terms of its importance to the local and state economy relative to other military installations.
2. The potential job displacement within the local community should the mission of the military installation be changed.
3. The potential impact on industries and technologies which service the military installation.
(4) The Florida Defense Reinvestment Grant Program is established to respond to the need for this state to work in conjunction with defense-dependent communities in developing and implementing strategies and approaches that will help communities support the missions of military installations, and in developing and implementing alternative economic diversification strategies to transition from a defense economy to a nondefense economy. Eligible applicants include defense-dependent counties and cities, and local economic development councils located within such communities. The program shall be administered by the department and grant awards may be provided to support community-based activities that:
(a) Protect existing military installations;
(b) Diversify the economy of a defense-dependent community; or
(c) Develop plans for the reuse of closed or realigned military installations, including any plans necessary for infrastructure improvements needed to facilitate reuse and related marketing activities.
Applications for grants under this subsection must include a coordinated program of work or plan of action delineating how the eligible project will be administered and accomplished, which must include a plan for ensuring close cooperation between civilian and military authorities in the conduct of the funded activities and a plan for public involvement.
(5) The Defense Infrastructure Grant Program is created. The department shall coordinate and implement this program, the purpose of which is to support local infrastructure projects deemed to have a positive impact on the military value of installations within the state. Funds are to be used for projects that benefit both the local community and the military installation. Infrastructure projects to be funded under this program include, but are not limited to, those related to encroachment, transportation and access, utilities, communications, housing, environment, and security. Grant requests will be accepted only from economic development applicants serving in the official capacity of a governing board of a county, municipality, special district, or state agency that will have the authority to maintain the project upon completion. An applicant must represent a community or county in which a military installation is located. There is no limit as to the amount of any grant awarded to an applicant. A match by the county or local community may be required. The program may not be used to fund on-base military construction projects. The department shall establish guidelines to implement the purpose of this subsection.
(6) The department may award nonfederal matching funds specifically appropriated for construction, maintenance, and analysis of a Florida defense workforce database. Such funds will be used to create a registry of worker skills that can be used to match the worker needs of companies that are relocating to this state or to assist workers in relocating to other areas within this state where similar or related employment is available.
(7) Payment of administrative expenses shall be limited to no more than 10 percent of any grants issued pursuant to this section.
(8) The department shall establish guidelines to implement and carry out the purpose and intent of this section.