BIOGRAPHY of Jeff Fanto

Jeff Fanto is President of Economic Development Services LLC, a Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business, with primary focus on partnerships, planning, energy and economic development.  A retired Air Force officer and civil servant, he has over 31 years combined experience in the Federal sector.  In his most recent position as Chief of Portfolio Optimization, 96th Civil Engineer Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida (2016-2022), he was responsible for all facilities planning and programming for the largest Air Force base in the world.  He was also responsible for the Eglin Energy Office and the installation’s Community Partnership Program.  Prior to his time as Chief, Jeff was a Community Planner in the same office (2011-2016).  He was the lead in establishing the Eglin Community Partnership Program (2014) which continues to this day.  Also during this time, he served as chair of the Mission Sustainment Committee of the Florida Defense Alliance, a state-wide non-profit partnership that works to increase military value, enhance base capabilities and promote multi-service synergies for Florida’s military bases, while supporting and enhancing the quality of life for Florida’s military families. 


His experience in state/local government as the Growth Project Coordinator for the Okaloosa County (FL) Board of Commissioners had him leading the study and implementation efforts for community and installation growth as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC 2005) decision to relocate the U.S. Army’s 7th Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Eglin and the creation of the Joint Integrated Training Center for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (2007-2011).  He pulled together a three-county and multiple municipality coalition to focus on the issues this growth posed to the region.  He served as Director of Technology Programs for the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, Florida (now One Okaloosa EDC).  One of his responsibilities with the EDC was serving as Chairman of TeCMEN (Technology Coast Manufacturing and Engineering Network).  TeCMEN continues to provide opportunities for innovative collaboration and advanced technical expertise locally, regionally, and in the competitive global marketplace. 


During his service as an active-duty Air Force officer from 1985 – 2006, he served in multiple leadership roles at the squadron, division and Combatant Command levels.  He was Commander of the 375th Services Squadron, Scott AFB, Illinois, from 2004 – 2006; the largest squadron at Scott with 570 personnel mixed between military, appropriated and non-appropriated funded civilians.  He also served as Director of Public Affairs for Eglin Air Force Base under the former Air Armament Center, as well as serving in a Joint Public Affairs position at the United States Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.  Early in his military career, Jeff taught Professional Military Education to junior officers (Squadron Officer School) and served in several administrative leadership positions at the squadron level. 


Jeff holds a B.S. Degree in Journalism from West Virginia University and a Master of Public Administration from Troy University.  He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, Air War College, and the Armed Forces Staff College.  Jeff also holds an Economic Development Certificate from the International Economic Development Council. 


Jeff serves as the Executive Director of the Emerald Coast Military Affairs Council.  He also serves as Vice Chair of the Okaloosa County Infrastructure Surtax Advisory Committee and is a member of the Air Force Association – Eglin Chapter, a board member of both the Eglin Air Force Association Scholarship Foundation and the Destin Methodist Church.