Business Florida 2015 - The Regions
Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Gulf Breeze, Panama City, Pensacola, Tallahassee
Northwest Florida’s engaging combinationof natural springs, sugar white beaches, abundant pine forests and towns with names like Mossy Head, Sunny Hills and Cedar Grove has made this region a popular vacation destination. But along with a thriving tourism industry, these 16 counties boast an energetic workforce and, thanks to a site certification program launched by Gulf Power in 2013, plenty of shovel-ready properties for companies seeking to prosper. Here, businesses enjoy easy access to key southeastern markets via interconnected highways and rail lines and to the world at large from three deep water ports.
Industry sectors that are particularly strong in Northwest Florida include aviation/defense and information technology. Manufacturing, which currently generates more than 30,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region and is projected to grow at a faster rate here than elsewhere in Florida, has prompted formation of the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council. This association for manufacturers of all sizes and sub-clusters is combining forces with area educational institutions to create training programs that will ensure a steady stream of welders, aircraft mechanics, metal fabricators and other skilled workers to meet future employment needs.
WHO LIVES HERE
Active and retired military assets
Close to 44,000 highly trained military personnel are on active duty at six Air Force and Navy installations across Northwest Florida. And of the approximately 6,000 who retire from military service here each year, many choose to remain in the region and pursue second careers, bringing to area employers the advanced technical skills they acquired while in military service.
Florida’s capital city of Tallahassee is home to two public universities — Florida State and Florida A&M — and some of the state’s best-educated people. U.S. census figures reveal that 47% of Tallahassee residents age 25+ have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to the statewide average of 26%.
At 6%, the Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin MSA recorded the nation’s 3rd highest job growth between October 2012 and October 2013, according to the financial news website 247wallst.com. Surprisingly perhaps, considering the heavy military presence in Okaloosa County, none of that growth came from the public sector.