From Pensacola to West Palm Beach: The State Department's Impact on Florida

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Two sailboats on the water at sunset with the words "State4States" and "Florida"
#State4States: The Department of State has direct impact on the state of Florida

From Pensacola to West Palm Beach: The State Department's Impact on Florida

The State Department benefits the American people by advancing U.S. national security, promoting our economic interests, providing services, and reaffirming our country’s exceptional role in the world.  These benefits directly impact the “Sunshine State” of Florida. 

The State Department’s role in Florida can actually be traced as far back as the early 1800s. In 1783, American immigrants began to move into Spanish-controlled West Florida, and in 1810 rebelled and declared independence from Spain. Earnest negotiations over Florida’s status began in 1815 when Don Luis de Onis traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Secretary of State James Monroe, and were not resolved until Monroe was President and John Quincy Adams his Secretary of State. Under the Onis-Adams Treaty of 1819, Minister Onis and Secretary Adams reached an agreement whereby Spain ceded East Florida to the United States and renounced all claim to West Florida. 

Today, the State Department’s impact on Florida is perhaps less dramatic, but still significant. In the defense sphere, the State Department’s International Military Education and Training program funds the education and training of international military students at various locations across the state of Florida, including the Joint Special Operations University at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, the International Air Weapons Controller Course at Tyndall Air Force Base, and the Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City. These programs expose partner nation students to American history and culture, thereby building greater understanding, improving our partners’ defense capabilities, and supporting the local economy. 

In the education sector, through a 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant, the University of Central Florida and the Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria in Peru have teamed up to bring research opportunities to STEM students from low-income backgrounds in both Peru and the United States. The partnership provides students from both participating universities the opportunity to pursue research at international laboratories in projects not available at their home institutions, such as chemical sensors, renewable energy sources, and environmental science. The universities are committed to breaking barriers caused by language and lack of economic resources, and will introduce a long-term program as a pathway between universities in Peru and the U.S., thereby enabling underrepresented students to develop skills in research, language, and cultural and scientific competencies. 

And just recently, 13 businesses in Miami hosted fellows participating in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Professional Exchange Program (“YLAI”) from Argentina, Belize, Chile, Cuba, Dominica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Peru. Host Florida businesses traversed industries from tourism, to fashion, to food and beverage to high tech. This is the third year enterprises across the United States hosted 250 young entrepreneurs from 36 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to enhance the fellows’ competence in running their own ventures abroad, expanding their networks, and challenging prevailing stereotypes by showcasing the culture of innovation, collaboration, and transparency at the heart of the U.S. economy. Fellows, who overwhelmingly report positive experiences from their month in the U.S., return home with new skills, ideas, contacts, and friendships that propel their contributions to social and economic growth abroad on an American model. More than 50 percent of American host mentors have reported that, as a result of the YLAI program, they fostered new partnerships with professional counterparts in Latin America or the Caribbean, and 91.6 percent  would participate again. The YLAI program instills American entrepreneurship values and practices early in the evolution of young leaders and establishes a strong connection with the United States among the young entrepreneurs and future business partners in our hemisphere.  

The State Department’s impact in Florida can be traced back to the 1800s, but it is not diminishing today. From Pensacola to West Palm Beach, the State Department continues to seek opportunities to bring Floridians together with international partners, to the benefit of us all. 

Find out more about the Department of State's impact in American communities at Department of State by State

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.

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