Business Florida 2012 - The Regions
Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, Tallahassee
Florida's capital city Tallahassee boasts two public universities, a highly educated workforce and a growing R&D sector. [Photo: Ray Stanyard]
Northwest Florida's abundant pine forests, meandering rivers, natural springs, sugar white beaches and nearly year-round sunshine have long made this region a favorite destination for visitors. Along with a thriving tourism economy, the 16-county region is also home to strong aviation/aerospace and defense sectors and a burgeoning market for research and development.
And this region is growing by leaps and bounds. U.S. Census data shows that seven Northwest Florida counties grew 15% between 2000 and 2010; Santa Rosa, Walton and Wakulla swelled by 25%.
Affordability may well be the reason. Most housing in the region is priced below the state's median home value of $211,300. And Northwest Florida's population is younger than in many other regions in Florida, which translates into a ready and growing workforce adept at using the latest technologies.
Who Lives Here
Northwest Florida has a labor force of more than 661,000. It is home to four of the state's 20 MSAs, including Florida's capital city, Tallahassee. The area also boasts bustling urban centers like Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach and Panama City.
Military personnel: Approximately 40,000 well-trained military personnel. Some 8,000 retire or resign from military service to enter the region's workforce each year — many of them with advanced technical training and highly desired industry credentials.
Students: 60,000-plus students in the region's eight colleges and universities, including Florida State University, Florida A&M University and the University of West Florida.
A growing creative class: In Tallahassee — Florida's state capital and the region's largest city — the share of the workforce with college degrees is almost double the national average.
|Northwest Florida: At A Glance|
Demographics for the Northwest Region can be found at
Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.
» Next page: Northwest Florida's economic life, quality of life and notable employers