April 20, 2014

Community Portrait

Escambia, Okaloosa and Bay Counties

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

Destin, Florida
Destin’s white-sand beaches draw tourists from Atlanta, Nashville and much of the mid-South. [Photo: DestinChamber.com]

A Different Feel

In general, northwest Florida:

  • Is less urban and more Southern in character than the rest of Florida.
  • Includes a higher percentage of African-Americans and a lower percentage of Hispanics than the rest of Florida.
  • Tends to be more politically conservative than the rest of Florida; McCain garnered from 59% to 72% of the votes in the three counties in the 2008 presidential election.
  • Has a higher percentage of people who identify themselves as religious; Protestants make up a significantly higher share of the religious population than in most of Florida’s larger urban areas.
  • Has a higher percentage of residents who are native Floridians than elsewhere in the state. Smaller percentages of the population are foreign-born than elsewhere in Florida; fewer residents speak a language other than English at home.
  • Has an economy that’s more influenced by military spending than other areas of Florida.

Panama City-Bay County

Panama City Bay County Florida

White

73% 85% 80%

Black

22 12 16
Hispanic 3.7 3.5 20
City population: 38,533

County population: 163,984

Notable: Nearly 47% of the population of Panama City earns less than $35,000 a year, compared to about 36% of Florida’s population overall.

> In a Nutshell

Bay County is betting big that the world will beat a path to its door, constructing a $318-million international airport scheduled to open next year at a 75,000-acre West Bay green site that’s also blueprinted to contain one of the country’s biggest mixed-use planned communities. Meanwhile, Port Panama City is looking to handle a bigger share of cargo from abroad; St. Joe Co. is re-creating ruralism at River Camps; and retail developer Simon Property has spread the welcome mat at Panama City Beach with upscale Pier Park. The issue now: Will it all pan out as planned?

Pier Park in Panama City Beach, Florida
The upscale Pier Park complex in Panama City Beach. [Photo: Simon Property Group]

Tags: North Central

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