Santa Rosa County could nab $1M for aviation technician academy
Image via AP.

airplane technician
Florida's recently improved economic projections helped make the funding possible.

The Senate has agreed to award $1 million to Santa Rosa County for an Airframe and Powerplant training facility in Milton.

Senate budget negotiators agreed to the House’s latest plan for infrastructure and economic development spending. That included the full million as requested by the House to plan and renovate an existing facility to create the training and certification program.

Officials hope the facility continues feeding Northwest Florida’s growing aviation industry, which offers good paying jobs.The academy would be the first Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) training facility in Santa Rosa County and would also serve neighboring Escambia and Okaloosa counties.

A&P licenses are the two Federal Aviation Administration certificates necessary to become an aviation maintenance technician. The airframe portion of the training covers systems like electronics and cabin pressure. The powerplant portion covers propulsion systems.

The new academy would also offer other curriculum and education certifications.

In total, the county plans to spend $4 million on the project, which is being completed in partnership with Milton and the Santa Rosa County School District. Of the remaining $3 million, $1 million will come from local government sources.

In 2018, the county hired consultants to create an economic development plan for the next three to five years. The aviation and defense industry was part of that plan.

Northwest Florida is home to a high concentration of veterans, and the county wanted to attract aviation and defense companies to meet those military retirees’ expertise. Additionally, the plan aims to create a pipeline for new workers through an aviation training academy.

County officials believe it could serve between 200 and 400 economically disadvantaged Floridians, including those who are currently or formerly incarcerated to reduce recidivism.

Northwest Florida is home to 500 aerospace companies. There are also several military bases in the region, including Naval Air Station Pensacola and Eglin Air Force Base.

Rep. Alex Andrade, a Pensacola Republican, is sponsoring the Legislature’s effort. Lawmakers are currently in the final stages of hammering out the budget for the coming fiscal year.

Initially, the House budget allocated only $500,000 for the project, half the county’s request. Meanwhile, the Senate budget offered no funds.

However, the state’s economic outlook has been improving in recent months as the state’s general revenue projections repeatedly outpace mid-pandemic estimates.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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