Business Florida 2013 - The Regions
Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, Tallahassee
National Solar Power (NSP) plans to build the Southeast’s largest solar energy farm in Gadsden County. When completed in approximately five years, the $1.5-billion, 400-megawatt project will power 32,000 homes. NSP plans a second, smaller solar farm in adjacent Liberty County.
Research & Development
A $2.5-million “split magnet” system now operational at The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University is 43% more powerful than the previous record-holding magnet and will be used for optics, nanoscience and semiconductor research.
The military accounts for 35% of gross regional output (47% in Okaloosa County, home to Eglin AFB). Approximately 179,000 jobs in the region depend in part on Department of Defense spending, including those at 500-plus private-sector companies. Recent activity:
• Maryland-based North Eastern Aeronautical, manufacturer of unmanned aerial systems, has opened an office in Niceville to be near Eglin and Tyndall Air Force Bases.
• Avalex Technologies, manufacturer of airborne surveillance systems, has moved into a new $10-million, 53,000-sq.-ft. headquarters in Gulf Breeze.
• The National Flight Academy, a $35-million STEM-focused educational institution in Pensacola, teaches science, technology, math and engineering skills to middle- and high-school students by immersing them in real-life aviation-related role-playing scenarios.
QUALITY OF LIFE
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Northwest Florida’s superb climate lends itself to year-round golfing, fishing and boating; its Gulf Coast beaches are consistently ranked among the world’s best. For sports enthusiasts, Pensacola has its first AA baseball team — the Blue Wahoos — and a new 5,000-seat ballpark on the downtown waterfront where an amphitheater, new hotels and office buildings, walkways and gardens are also planned.
Head to Gretna where the Porach Band of Creek Indians has opened a $20-million entertainment center featuring a poker room and barrel racing with the five-year goal of building a complete resort casino, including hotels, equestrian center, quarter-horse racing and 2,000 slot machines.