2012 Economic Yearbook
Tourism and the military prove to be stabilizing factors in the Panhandle. Bay County area leaders continue to seek development opportunities around the new airport.
Pensacola has its first AA baseball team playing in a new waterfront park, and tourism is snapping back with 2011 bed-tax receipts up 27% from 2010. Pensacola leaders say the area could be past the worst of the recession and the fallout from the BP oil spill. Beaches are getting new visitors, a new hotel complex is rising, medical businesses appear healthy and a few manufacturers are hiring.
Still, 13,512 county residents were unemployed as of December, retail sales are flat, construction lags and new-home sales fell another 5% last year. "New-home sales are going to have to follow the economy; they won't be a leader," says Metro Market Trends Vice President Al Muller.
Businesses to Watch
» Navy Federal Credit Union: Last year, the credit union completed an $81.5-million building at its Pensacola regional office and added 466 employees for a total of 2,140; it expects to hire 450 more workers this year and is interested in purchasing an additional 240 acres for future expansion.
The Navy Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union in the U.S., added almost 500 workers last year in Pensacola and expects to hire an additional 450 this year. [Photo: Navy Federal Credit Union]
» IMS ExpertServices: The company, which provides expert witness searches and litigation consulting services, added a dozen employees in 2011 and could add 15 more in 2012.
» Custom Control Solutions: The manufacturer of industrial buildings and equipment is opening a second location and adding 15 employees. "We never experienced a slowdown," says owner Manfred Laner. "I deal with customers that went through the recession and never put the brakes on all the way."
» Sacred Heart Hospital: This month, the hospital launches a $57-million, two-phase project, mounting a five-story tower atop its existing three-story Heart and Vascular Institute building on its Pensacola campus, to add 112 beds and 150 jobs by completion in 2015-16.
People to Watch
» Quint Studer: The businessman, philanthropist and Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball team owner has pledged to build a multimillion-dollar office building downtown, adjacent to the Community Maritime Park, for relocation of the Studer Group, the healthcare consulting business he founded. He and his wife, Rishy, are also renovating two long-vacant downtown buildings for commercial use.
» Julian MacQueen: The Innisfree Hotels CEO has launched construction of a Hyatt Place Hotel at the Pensacola airport, part of a $24-million, 11-acre project that will also include retail and office space.
» Judy Bense: The University of West Florida president is promoting a growth plan that incorporates new
academic and residential facilities, a new student center and arena, a hotel/conference center and restaurant/retail space and a football team and stadium.
Issues to Watch
» Jobs: "Escambia County needs to diversify our economic base with jobs that generate a head-of-household wage, not simply minimum wage jobs," says County Administrator Randy Oliver. "We also need to focus and build on the development of the intellectual capital that Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition has developed." Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward emphasizes downtown waterfront development as critical, a goal gaining prominence with completion of the Community Maritime Park, the revision of Pensacola port goals and relocation of the Main Street wastewater treatment plant.
|Escambia Population: 301,527|
|Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 0.39%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $38,486|
|MSA||Dec. 2011||Dec. 2010||% Change||Jobless Rate|
|Panama City/Lynn Haven/Panama City Beach||79,499||78,826||+.9%||10.1%|
|Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation|
|Homes - Single-family, existing-home sales|
|MSA||2011 Sales||1-Year Change||2011 Price||1-Year Change|
|Fort Walton Beach||3,215||+17%||$180,200||-4%|
|Source: Florida Realtors; year-end sales, median price|
|Escambia County Consumer Bankruptcies|
|Source: National Bankruptcy Research Center|