Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast Assists Military Spouses Connect with Businesses Prior to Moving to Brevard
By Space Coast Daily // September 27, 2021
Serving the military has long been a top priority for the EDC of Florida's Space Coast
Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast partners with Angela Neal to launch the Hiring Our Heroes Space Coast Military Spouse Professional Network
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – As a “career-minded” military spouse, Angela Neal is all too familiar with the sacrifices these heroes behind the heroes face as they follow their partners in their assignments.
“From my experience over the last 18 years as a military spouse, it is extremely difficult to find employment,” said Neal, whose husband was stationed on the Space Coast from 2013 to 2017 and is again back in Brevard as he pursues a Ph.D. from Florida Tech.
“Military spouses do not have a network in place at every duty station, so we rely on the community to understand the value military spouses bring to the workforce and look past potential gaps in resumes due to a move or deployment.”
On average, a military spouse spends six months job-hunting and often has to settle for entry-level positions.
“This causes significant under- and unemployment because the skillset and education do not match the roles we are able to obtain,” added Neal.
Neal thought it was time for a change, so she launched the Hiring Our Heroes Space Coast Military Spouse Professional Network, which has partnered with the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast to help military spouses connect with businesses prior to moving to Brevard.
“We want to help line up employment for military spouses as soon as they move to the Space Coast,” said Neal. “This is good for the economy, for mental wellbeing for the entire family and for military retention.”
As senior manager for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, Neal brought a unique wealth of experience – and networking opportunities – to the project. Hiring our Heroes connects service members, military spouses and veterans with American businesses in order to foster a diversified workforce that enhances economic opportunity.
With the help of Neal and military spouses Shelby Kenny, Cassie Price and Katie Garcia, the EDC is creating the Space Coast Military-Friendly Guide, a keystone to helping military families gain an edge on the area before they even step on Brevard soil.
“The guide is a gateway to the Space Coast, with resources at the tips of our fingers,” said Neal. “Anyone in or around the military community recognizes that there is not a lack of resources, but rather that the problem lies with awareness and how to utilize the resources. The Space Coast Military-Friendly Guide solves those problems.”
Although primarily aimed at the military community, the guide, which includes sections on moving, living, playing and working here, is valuable for all sectors of the community.
“This guide can be used by anyone,” said Neal.
Serving the military has long been a top priority for the EDC.
“Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also carries a $1.3 billion economic impact for the area,” said Brian Baluta, the EDC’s director of communications and partner relations.
“It’s a win-win for the community and for national security.”
Brevard’s roots with the military run deep. Eleven percent of the county’s population are veterans and approximately 4,000 active, guard and reserve personnel currently live in the county.
Many service members opt to return permanently after retiring from the military. When the service member retires, military families often choose where they will move based on employment opportunities for both the service member and military spouse.
Baluta and Neal enlisted military spouses from diverse backgrounds to help with content for the guide.
“We were fortunate to have a military spouse participating that was currently moving to the area, which allowed us to get immediate feedback about the guide,” said Neal.
“She also happens to work in human resources, which was helpful when creating the “Working Here” section.”
The guide has drawn five-star reviews from military spouses.
“They tell us they wish they had something like this everywhere they went,” said Baluta. “It will establish the standards for best practices.”