September 23, 2014

2012 Economic Yearbook

Economic Indicators for Florida's Big Bend region

Lilly Rockwell | 4/24/2012

Gadsden/Wakulla/Lafayette/Jefferson Counties


The Poarch Band of Creek Indians teamed up with developer David Romanik to open a poker and horse-racing gambling center in Gadsden County, bringing 180 jobs. [Photo: Creek Entertainment]

These counties rely heavily on state government in nearby Leon County and enjoy a lower-than-average unemployment rate, but some have succeeded in broadening their economic base in the last year.

Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Gardner says the county scored its biggest business-recruiting win ever when Melbourne-based National Solar Power agreed in September to build a solar farm in the county that will employ 120. The 4,000-acre farm is valued at $1.5 billion.


National Solar Power will build a 4,000-acre solar farm in Gadsden County. [Photo: National Solar Power]

A new horse racing and poker facility opened in the Gadsden County town of Gretna in December, bringing 180 jobs. There are ambitious plans to build a resort casino with a hotel and slot machines — which voters approved in January.

In Wakulla County, business boosters want to enhance the county's reputation as an eco-tourism destination by opening Wakulla Springs to recreational diving. The springs, located within Wakulla Springs State Park, offer a labyrinth of underwater caves estimated at 30 miles long. But a proposal to open the springs is under review by the state because of environmental and safety concerns.

Lafayette County is partnering with other north Florida counties to build an industrial park. Jefferson County officials were relieved that lawmakers decided to keep the state prison — the county's largest employer — open. "It represents 6% of all the jobs in our community," says Jefferson County Economic Development Council Executive Director Julie Conley. "It's all anybody is talking about or thinking."


Cave diving in Wakulla Springs

Gadsden Population: 46,881
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 0.30%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
20.50% 6.11% 24.29% 34.89% 14.21%
Per Capita Income: $30,082

Wakulla Population: 32,373
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 2.63%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
18.32% 5.96% 26.94% 37.36% 11.42%
Per Capita Income: $32,213

Lafayette Population: 8,992
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 1.52%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
17.19% 5.41% 32.52% 31.86% 13.02%
Per Capita Income: $18,452

Jefferson Population: 15,089
Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 0.82%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
15.99% 4.93% 23.05% 38.16% 17.87%
Per Capita Income: $32,041

Tags: Big Bend

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