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June 20, 2018

Business Florida 2012 - The Regions

Northwest Florida

Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, Tallahassee

Port Panama City
Port Panama City expects to increase its cargo tonnage to an annual level of 2.4 million tons within five years. [Photo: Port Panama City]

Economic Life

Aviation/Aerospace/ Defense

» Seven Air Force and Navy installations make this area a natural hub for aviation, aerospace and defense companies. Excluding military personnel, some 37,000 private-sector jobs in this region are associated with aerospace and defense. In fiscal year 2010, the U.S. Air Force alone contracted $473.1 million with Northwest Florida firms.

R&D Infrastructure

» The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory — home to the world's largest and highest-powered magnet and a joint venture of the National Science Foundation and Florida State University — draws interest from international scientists specializing in physics, chemistry, biochemistry, biology and biomedicine.

» Researchers at the Pensacola-based Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research institute of the Florida University System affiliated with several Florida universities, explore synergies between humans and machines in order to leverage and extend human capabilities. Active research areas include knowledge modeling and sharing, robotics, computer-mediated learning systems and work practice simulation.


» Businesses here enjoy proximity to key Southeastern growth markets via an interconnected network of highways, railroads and shipping lines. In recent years, Port Panama City has invested more than $50 million in new facilities and equipment and has committed to another $35 million in improvements over the next five years. Foreign Trade Zones here, and at the Port of Pensacola, facilitate global commerce.

Quality of Life

Community Maritime Park
Above: Community Maritime Park is home field for Minor League Baseball's Pensacola Blue Wahoos beginning in 2012.
Below: Paddle up the lazy Wakulla River -- one of the many things to see and do in Northwest Florida.
[Photo: Visit Tallahassee]
Wakulla River

Welcome home: The hallmarks of Southern charm — live oaks, Spanish moss and magnolias — along shady urban streets and in rural communities beckon new arrivals to Northwest Florida's welcoming lifestyle. The award-winning sugar sand beaches of the Gulf coast also are a big draw.

Easy access: The opening of Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in 2010 made getting where you want to go easier than ever. The $318-million facility is the first international airport to be built in the United States in more than a decade.

Recreation aplenty: The region's superior climate lends itself to year-round golfing, fishing and boating. Foodies are drawn to Apalachicola in Bay County for the native oysters and other "fruits" of the sea at Florida's oldest maritime event, the Florida Seafood Festival. Arts enthusiasts especially enjoy the concerts, operas, Broadway-style musicals and other events at the historic Saenger Theatre in Pensacola. Sports fans can catch fall football action on Saturdays at Florida State University where the nationally ranked Seminoles do battle on the gridiron against visiting college teams.

Notable Employers

Renewable Energy and Environment

  • GE Pensacola
  • Green Circle Bio Energy Inc., Cottondale
  • Gulf Power and LFG Technologies Development, Perdido Key


  • BAE Systems Inc., Fort Walton Beach
  • The Boeing Company, Eglin Air Force Base
  • DeTect Inc., Panama City
  • DRS Defense Solutions, Fort Walton Beach


  • Coast Water Efficient Technology (Coast WET), Panama City Beach
  • Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Panama City
  • Mowrey Elevator Company Inc., Marianna
  • Quincy Joist Company, Quincy
  • WestPoint Home Inc., Chipley

Health Sciences

  • Actigraph, Pensacola
  • The Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Gulf Breeze
  • Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory and the Naval Operational Medical Institute, Pensacola

Research and Development

  • Applied Research Associates, divisions in Niceville and Panama City Beach
  • Bing Energy, Tallahassee
  • The Florida Center for Advanced Aero-Propulsion, Tallahassee

Tags: Business Florida, Northwest

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

VB-10000 at Port of Pensacola
VB-10000 at Port of Pensacola

A massive VB-10000 vessel spending a few days at the Port of Pensacola waiting out rough seas. Although it looks a bit like a roller coaster, it's actually a ship used in offshore oil operations. 

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