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Florida Small Business



March 24, 2018

Business Florida 2018 - The Regions

Town Meets Gown

| 9/22/2017

North Central

Gainesville snagged the highest ranking in Florida, No. 15 on’s 2017 list of “Top 50 Best Cities for Entrepreneurs.” Reasons cited: available talent, affordable housing and overall quality of life.

University of Florida is ranked 8th among public U.S. universities and 18th worldwide for U.S. utility patents granted in 2016; 91 in all. (National Academy of Inventors, Intellectual Property Owners Association)

Ocala is among 10 U.S. metro areas expected to add the most jobs through 2018. Anticipated annual rate of growth: 3% compared to the national average of 1.4%. (Moody Analytics)

North Central Florida
  • Population / 904,527
  • Labor Force / 381,703
  • Households / 384,975
  • Total Earnings / $16.82 bil.
  • Median Per Capita Income / $30,336
  • Total Retail Sales / $11.46 bil.
  • Universities/Colleges / 5
  • Commercial Airport / 1

The University of Florida’s long-term master plan goes beyond campus boundaries to address community concerns, preserve neighborhoods and encourage grads to remain in Gainesville.


Logistics / Transportation

SUWANNEE COUNTY Officials are petitioning Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission to make Live Oak a stop if/when passenger rail service is restored between New Orleans and Jacksonville. A stop at Live Oak, near the junction of I-75 and I-10, could generate more than $12 million annually for Amtrak.

OCALA A $50-million AutoZone distribution center is scheduled to open in 2018 and create 240 jobs. It will be the retailer’s 10th such facility nationwide and will supply the more than 290 AutoZone stores in Florida and Puerto Rico.

OCALA Online pet food/products retailer announced plans in early 2017 to create 600 jobs at an e-commerce fulfillment center in Marion County. Anticipated opening: February 2018.

JASPER Atlanta-based Swift Straw, a distributor of pine straw, mulch and other ground cover products for landscaping purposes, has opened its first Florida location in Hamilton County. Founded in 2011, Swift Straw chose Jasper for its proximity to I-75 and I-10. The firm has hired 26 workers and plans to hire additional staff as its operations get fully underway.

Key Players

Cheney Brothers | Ocala
FedEx Ground | Ocala
R+L Global Logistics | Ocala

Since its 2016 expansion at Lake City Gateway Airport in Columbia County, HAECO Airframe Services has filled close to 350 jobs. The aircraft maintenance firm has a workforce of 930 and hopes to add another 170 soon.

Tags: Business Florida

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