Spending for the Department of Defense is being cut, and it's a reality threatening dozens of local companies.
That's why Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., headed an expo at Cecil Airport Wednesday to help shine the spotlight on companies that make up the defense industry in northeast Florida.
Crenshaw is the guest of the Florida League of Defense Contractors and the Jacksonville Aviation Authority for the inaugural First Coast Defense Expo.
The event featured 35 different exhibitors showcasing what they do for the United States' defense industry.
One of them was Northrop Grumman, which employs nearly 1,000 people in St. Augustine. Right now its project is to build 75 aircrafts for the Navy.
"This aircraft is the eyes and ears of the battle group so they can see threats out to 300 nautical mile radius," said Tim Paynter, director of international communications.
Some military leaders say cuts the Department of Defense is facing could threaten jobs and the nation's safety.
"They provide the resources, the equipment, the training to ensure that the men and women we send in harm's way are going to come back safe, they're going to win an early war and come home," said former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi.
Crenshaw shared his perspective from his work on national security policy and join Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, Principi, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and key defense industry and small business leaders in a town hall-style discussion on the role and importance of the defense industry to national security and economy.
Crenshaw was a guest on The Morning Show on Monday stressing how serious the cuts to the defense industry would be. He said if Congress makes more cuts, it will not only devastate the defense of our country, but devastate the small regional and national companies.
Crenshaw said Congress has already cut $487 billion out of the defense industry, which would happen over the next decade.
There's talk of cutting another $500 billion to $600 billion. Crenshaw says if that bill is passed, it could mean a loss of 39,000 jobs in Florida.
"We've seen this industry similar to other industries, they just stop hiring and they don't know where to go for assistance," said Joe Marino, president of Florida League of Defense Contractors.
The sponsors and exhibitors Wednesday had displays at the event at booths across 15,000 square feet of floor space. An open policy session was held at 9 a.m., lunch with Crenshaw at 12:15 p.m. and the town hall discussion was at 3 p.m.