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Florida Colleges May See Big Money From Defense Bill

Florida State, Florida A&M and Tallahassee Community College stand to receive more than $15 million under a federal defense bill that would give grants to the three institutions for national defense projects.

The three colleges depend on a mix of state and federal money for their budgets and are in competition with institutions nationwide for valuable grant dollars that could bring jobs and prestige to the schools.

“One, it obviously is a great benefit for this nation from a national security perspective,” said U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Monticello. “But it also...there is a parochial interest in it brings dollars in to our local universities, to our local economy.”

The Defense Department's budget bill, which has currently passed the U.S. House, includes $5 million for FSU for the integration of electro-kinetic weapons into new navy ships and $4 million for integrated cryo-cooled high power density systems.

FAMU would receive $6 million to continue researching and developing the standoff improvised explosive device detection program. And TCC would get $500,000 for a manufacturing and industrial technology center.

Presidents of the three institutions said the money would likely create jobs in the region. However, no official job projections have been done.

“Every time we bring one of these contracts or grants in, a $5 million, a $6 million, an $8 million, they bring in scientists. They bring post-docs. They bring students. They bring jobs,” said FSU President T.K. Wetherell. “They bring people … who buy houses, buy cars…..”

The bill is still in the early stages of the budgetary process and a final vote on the national budget will not likely occur until some time in September. In that time, the items could be amended out of the defense budget bill.

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