JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - More than 40 defense contractors from Northeast Florida are hosting exhibits, showcasing what they do to support national security at the First Coast Defense Expo at Cecil Airport.
As you can imagine, many of these companies are affected in some way by the government shutdown and military furloughs.
Cecil Airport is actually directly affected because a big part of business there is fuel and there are less military planes flying. As for the individual companies, some have been effected, in both bad and good ways.
This is the second year the First Coast Defense Expo is happening and the event has doubled in size.
"The energy for the people coming to this conference are saying hey that's the government issue, in the meantime lets stay focused on what's important in Northeast Florida," said Defense Expo host, Joe Snowberger.
It's in Northeast Florida where dozens of companies supporting our country's national security are headquartered, like the fleet readiness center, which does things like provide aircraft components and engines for the Navy, the Marine corps and the Air Force.
The readiness center was not affected as bad this time around, as it was over the summer when employees were furloughed and they were shut down for six Fridays in a row.
"The biggest thing you heard from our workers was how could they justify providing support to the war fighter on Monday through Thursday and on Friday just telling them well, you're on your own. We cant be here it just seemed to really leave a nasty taste in their mouth," said Snowberger.
Also at the expo is Tactical Air Support, a company that was affected by the shutdown in a much different way. Tactical Air Support provides aircrafts to our government that takes the place of modern fighters, which are very expensive to operate. CEO R.C. Thompson said it's a difference of our military paying $25,000 to $30,000 an hour to fly a fighter plane or $5,000 to $6,000.
"People talk about austerity, people talk about sequestration and the shutdown, with us it's an opportunity because we save money so we become even more relevant in those times," said Thompson.
There are several planes on display for people to see at the expo. However, there would have been many more. The Coast Guard and National Guard would've had helicopters there but didn't have the manpower to tow them over.
The expo as a whole has grown tremendously since it was first held in 2012 so it's hopeful this will become an annual event.
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