December 11, 2017

community portrait

Daytona Beach & Volusia County

More than just gathering data, we're trying to capture elements that make each community distinctive.

Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach [Photo: iStock]

A sense of Volusia County’s personality depends on which part of it you happen to be in. Daytona Beach is a mix, in a small package, of go-go NASCAR and other motorsports along with high-octane beach tourism and an expanding dollop of upper-end arts and cultural offerings. A few miles up the coast, Ormond Beach, a former winter home to Rockefeller-types, is an old-style beach town that likes its leisure quiet and serene. Toward the west, Deltona is a classic Florida mega-subdivision, a haven for suburban families. Nearby DeLand is quaint, with shady streets and a historic, college-town feel. Elsewhere throughout the county are sprinkled a raft of small towns, each with its own identity, from Lake Helen and its spiritualist community of Cassadaga to business-friendly Port Orange. Volusia encompasses a host of state parks and natural areas, both on the beach and inland by the St. Johns River.

Halifax River
Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach Pier
Daytona Beach Pier
Traditionally, Volusia’s tourism-dominated economy has lagged other parts of the state in some economic measures, including wage rates and higher-skill employment. But the county’s economy is diversified, with a solid manufacturing base — more than 30% of the manufacturing workforce is involved in medical product manufacturing; other manufacturing businesses range from producers of automotive equipment to boat builders and defense contractors. Overall, nearly two in five workers are employed in health-related businesses or education (there are five universities in the county, including world-class aerospace school Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University). The agricultural sector is strong as well — the tiny town of Pierson bills itself as “Fern Capital of the World.” And the county is home to the Brown & Brown insurance brokerage firm, No. 48 on Florida Trend’s list of the 150 biggest publicly traded companies in Florida and the sixth-largest such firm in the U.S.

DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts
DeLand's fall arts festival attracts 50,000 people.
The county’s leadership, particularly in Daytona Beach, has shown determination in working to upgrade the tourism infrastructure and the county’s “creative class”-type amenities. The Ocean Walk Village complex, including hotels, shops and the Ocean Center convention and meeting center, has been a major improvement to the city’s oceanfront. Meanwhile, the Daytona Beach International Festival and Daytona State College have partnered to create a performing arts consortium to advance arts and cultural programs throughout the county. All of the major Daytona Beach performing arts venues will merge under one operating entity.

As it moves forward, the county faces major challenges, including maintaining economic progress while preserving the individual community identities that have given it its character.

A Community Portrait of Volusia County

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Florida Trend Video Pick

Sting performs with the Florida Orchestra for 50th anniversary gala
Sting performs with the Florida Orchestra for 50th anniversary gala

Sting performed with the Florida Orchestra for their 50th anniversary gala Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame rocker belted some of his biggest hits while conductor Michael Francis led the orchestra.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

How has the restaurant scene in Florida changed over the past 20+ years?

  • A lot - there's much more variety
  • Some - there are more restaurants but many are overpriced or mediocre
  • Not much - newer restaurants have driven out too many mom-and-pop places
  • Not sure - haven't been here long enough
  • Other (comments welcome)

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Ballot Box