Business Florida 2014 - The Regions
Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, Tallahassee
Demographics for the Northwest region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.
• Chipola College
• Florida A&M University
• Florida State University
• Gulf Coast State College
• Northwest Florida State College
• Pensacola State College
• Tallahassee Community College
• University of West Florida
• Bob Sikes
• Northwest Florida Beaches International
• Northwest Florida Regional
• Pensacola International
• Tallahassee Regional
• Port Panama City
• Port of Pensacola
• Port of Port St. Joe
Northwest Florida’s natural springs and sugar white beaches have long made this region a popular vacation destination. But along with a thriving tourist industry — that in 2012 increased by an average of 15% across many counties — Florida’s Panhandle boasts a strong Aviation/ aerospace/ defense sector and, as the home of Florida State University, one of two officially designated preeminent research universities in Florida, a reputation for cutting-edge R&D activity.
Businesses in Northwest Florida enjoy easy access to key southeastern growth markets via interconnected highways, railroads and shipping lines. At Port Panama City — the largest of three seaports serving the region — cargo was up by 3% in 2012 over 2011 and a 150,000-sq.-ft warehouse for the storage and distribution of import/export products is under construction.
To further boost economic activity, Gulf Power is spear-heading — and partially paying for — a program to get industrial sites project-ready and certified. By clearing the land, installing some utilities and jumpstarting the permitting process, these vacant sites will become more appealing for development.
WHO LIVES HERE
Military 44,000 highly trained military personnel are on active duty at six Air Force and Navy installations across the region, and an estimated 6,000 retire from military service here each year, often seeking second careers and bringing the strong work ethic and advanced technical skills they acquired while in military service to area employers.
Students and young professionals 103,000-plus students are enrolled in the region’s eight colleges and universities and, it seems, a good share of them join the workforce following graduation. From 2005 to 2010, the number of 25- to 34-year-olds living in Tallahassee alone grew by 20%, thanks to the capital city’s quality of life, jobs and social opportunities.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Changing cityscapes In Tallahassee, the $30-million Cascades Park, with its 1,500-seat canopied amphitheater, opened in 2013. In Panama City, the downtown marina is adding a visitor center, pavilion and lighthouse. In Pensacola, hotels and office buildings are planned alongside the 5,000-seat ballpark where the AA Blue Wahoos play. And in downtown Fort Walton Beach, the planned "LandmarkCenter" will include a hotel, condos and 36,000-sq.-ft. of restaurant, retail and office space.
Wonders down under and beside the seaNorthwest Florida’s Gulf Coast is legendary for its beauty and recreational amenities. For divers, there’s the Panhandle Shipwreck Trail, 12 underwater wrecks from Pensacola to Port St. Joe, and for beachcombers, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in Gulf County was recently ranked No. 1 on a list of the nation’s best state parks from americasbestonline.com for its striking dune formations and white sand beaches.