March 31, 2015

Economic yearbook 2011

Northwest - Yearbook

| 4/1/2011

Panama City/Bay County

Bay Population: 169,835
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 0.99%
Population by Age:
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
18.9% 5.8% 26.7% 33.5% 15.1%
Per Capita Income: $36,805

Business Facilities magazine ranked Panama City first in growth potential among small metro areas, and AOL Travel has spotlighted Panama City Beach among this year's top 10 budget travel destinations. Those recognitions may owe much to the completion of the $318-million Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. Panama City BeachThe airport is the centerpiece of the 75,000-acre West Bay Sector, a portion of which is planned for industrial development by the St. Joe Co., which has relocated its headquarters to the site. The airport itself is being well-received by travelers: The December passenger count was nearly three times that of the same month a year ago. While the recession hurt some businesses at Panama City Beach, the real spoiler was the perceived impact of the oil spill, says Dan Rowe, executive director of the Bay County Tourist Development Council — noting that recent visitor numbers are up: "The beach is bouncing back."

Apalachicola/ Franklin County

Franklin Population: 11,535
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 0.58%
Population by Age:
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
14.1% 4.5% 28.3% 35.1% 18.0%
Per Capita Income: $30,481

"First, the housing collapse knocked us down and then the oil spill," says Alan Pierce, Franklin County director of administrative services and county economic development. Franklin is one of seven Gulf coastal counties most impacted by the oil spill, which affected both tourism and seafood industries, says Pierce. On the positive side: The county this month is completing construction of a $1-million hangar at the Apalachicola/Franklin general aviation airport. The 10,000-sq.-ft. building also has office space.

Fort Walton/Okaloosa County

Okaloosa Population: 183,221
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 0.32%
Population by Age:
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
19.5% 6.1% 27.5% 32.7% 14.3%
Per Capita Income: $42,733

Strong growth is forecast for Okaloosa County, sparked by two major military moves — the 8,000-plus population surge under way from the relocation of the Army's 7th Special Forces and the buildup of Joint Strike Fighter training operations.

Rick Harper
Rick Harper
In addition, Vision Airlines has decided to make Northwest Florida Regional Airport a 20-market Southeast hub, a further boost for tourism. Also contributing to the economic outlook are runway improvements and Qwest Air Parts' tenancy at Crestview Bob Sikes Airport, plus expansions by military-support businesses. The county could see normal 10-year growth achieved in the next two years, predicts University of West Florida economist Rick Harper.

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