Defense Support Initiatives

DSI Composition | Mission Statement | Vision Statement | Tri-County Military Installations | Northwest Florida Defense Coalition | DSI Brochure

Military installations are the primary economic generator in Okaloosa County.

DSI-logo-gold_2015-update_trim.jpgThe EDC's Defense Support Initiatives (DSI) is recognized by the State of Florida as the official representative and the lead agency for the Eglin complex's base/community initiatives. Originated by the EDC in 1991, the DSI has led the county's efforts to ensure our military installations remain strong and viable contributors to the national defense and the economies of Okaloosa and surrounding counties.
Okaloosa County, along with its neighboring Santa Rosa and Walton Counties, is home to the largest Air Force Base in the world - Eglin Air Force Base. The land reservation provided by Eglin AFB encompasses three military installations; Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, and Duke Field, collectively known as the Eglin Test and Training Complex.

The military presence in Okaloosa County provides the majority of economic activity reaching heights above 70% of the overall economic activity.  CareerSource Florida and Enterprise Florida released the Florida Defense Factbook in September 2015 providing the following statistical breakdown:
  • Total statewide economic impact is $79.8 Billion; providing over 774,721 jobs
  • Total defense spending accounts for nearly $34.7 Billion 
  • Northwest Florida regional output is driven by defense spending; $20.4 Billion or 35% of the region's GRP
  • Northwest Florida defense activities provide over 181,564 jobs 
  • In Okaloosa County, defense-related spending accounts for over 73% of economic activity.
  • Okaloosa’s gross economic impact is $8.8 Billion; providing over 71,780 jobs
  • Okaloosa's defense spending exceeds $3.1 Billion
In 2016, Okaloosa County was designated as a Great American Defense Community by the National Association of Defense Communities (ADC). Read the Press Release Here


DSI Composition

Committee Chairman: Pete Gandy, Colonel, USAF Retired 
  • Okaloosa EDC Representatives
  • Okaloosa County Commissioner
  • Military Affairs Council Representatives
  • Community Business Leaders
  • Eglin AFB Representative
  • Retired Military Personnel
  • Santa Rosa County Representatives
  • Walton County Representatives

Mission Statement

To support and promote the local military installations and missions, and their positive economic contributions to the tri-county area while advocating for the environment and community infrastructure and nurturing the relationships with the civilian communities that house them.

DSI-Brochure-Image.jpgVision Statement

To ensure the survival and accommodate the growth of all military organizations and commands which reside on the Eglin AFB Complex in order for it to develop into and remain a joint warfighter complex and a high technology center of excellence for air armament, munitions, RDT&E, OT&E, special operations, joint readiness and training, and initial acquisition.

The economic viability of the region depends on the military. While other economic sectors may experience temporary downturns, the region’s military installations continue to be the prime generators of the economy supporting active military, civil service, military dependents, and retired and/or separated military personnel. The defense-related spending in Okaloosa County generates additional employment, wages, consumption spending and investments throughout the county and continues to produce more spending as it circulates throughout the region's economy. The military installations in the county further generate employment by contracting with local businesses and national businesses that have facilities in the area.


Tri-County Military Installations

  • Eglin AFB established in Okaloosa County in 1934, is a joint service installation responsible for development, acquisition, testing, deployment and sustainment of air-delivered weapons.
  • Hurlburt Field is headquarters to AF Special Operations Command. Its mission is to support training and execution of worldwide special air operations.
  • Duke Field houses the 919th Special Operations Wing, the only special operations unit in the AF Reserve.
  • U.S. Coast Guard Station Destin, commissioned in November 1977, is located on Choctawhatchee Bay at the east end of Okaloosa Island and maintains their primary mission of Search and Rescue extending 50 miles off shore into the Gulf of Mexico.
  • NAS Whiting Field, located in Santa Rosa County, trains student naval aviators in the primary and intermediate phases of fixed-wing aviation, and in the advanced phases of helicopter training. It hosts 6 Training Squadrons and 2 Instructional Squadrons. NAS Whiting Field is the busiest air station in the world, accounting for nearly 1.5 million annual flight operations including primary flight training of over 1,200 students.
The presence of the multi-service military units at Eglin results in a greater density of technology-based and defense-contracting firms creating industry clusters.

Seven of the ten largest defense contractors in the State of Florida have a presence in Okaloosa County.

An industry cluster of these targeted businesses catering to the local military installations has developed over the years, the Technology Coast Manufacturing and Engineering Network. These businesses, of which there are approximately 320 in Okaloosa, work with local suppliers to obtain the goods and services necessary to meet the needs of the military; creating jobs and sustaining the economy.

Continual Operation and Expansion of Our Military Installations is Critical to Our Region's Economic Foundation.  

Northwest Florida Defense Coalition

With the military presence being the #1 economic contributor across the Florida Panhandle, the EDC's DSI co-founded the five-county military community partnership. In 2005, the five counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay joined an alliance identified as the Northwest Florida Defense Coalition to support the military installations of Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, Duke Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Naval Air Station Whiting Field, and Tyndall Air Force Base and their surrounding communities.

Mission Statement

To strategically support and enhance Northwest Florida’s military installations, missions and national security strategies by diversifying our economic development efforts and building upon existing military missions and current defense industry infrastructure in order to consolidate our strengths and commonalities to become one of the most viable and progressive regions in America.

Areas of Interest
  Cybersecurity Services   Joint Gulf Range Complex
  DoD Budget   MILCON
  Enhanced Use Leases   Privatization
  Gulf Coast Regional Airspace    Range Sustainment 
  Homeland Security   Veteran's Services



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