October 24, 2014

Community Portrait

Escambia, Okaloosa and Bay Counties

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

Fort Walton Beach - Okaloosa County

Fort Walton Beach Okaloosa County Florida

White

80%
85% 80%

Black

13
9.6 16
Hispanic 5.3 5.7 20
City population: 20,100

County population: 181,499

Notable: 90% of county residents 25 and over had at least graduated from high school; the percentage of the population with some college or a college degree far outstrips Florida and national averages. Nearly 80% of the population was living in the same residence one year earlier.

> In a Nutshell

Okaloosa County is serious about defense, a $6-billion economic impact generator centered by Eglin Air Force Base, the largest military base in the world. And it’s serious about education, with an innovative secondary school system that’s become a Florida model. But it’s also earnest about fun — inviting visitors to walk the beaches, watch dolphins play, fish from charter boats and line up golf shots at a dozen courses. Not everyone, however, interprets the roar of jet fighters overhead as the soothing sound of security. And finding the right formula for balancing skyline development with preservation of natural attributes remains challenging.

Pensacola-Escambia County

Pensacola Escambia Florida

White

65% 71% 80%

Black

31 23 16
Hispanic 2 3 20

City population: 54,283

County population: 305,214

Notable: In the over-45 age groups, the city outstrips national and Florida profile; there are more households without children than Florida or national averages. The city’s population has declined by about 4% since 2000.

> Volunteering

Blue Angels
The Blue Angels flight team is stationed at Forrest Sherman Field at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. [Photo: U.S. Navy]

Between 2004 and 2007, Pensacola had an average volunteer rate of 22.4%. Pensacola residents also volunteered an average of 24.9 service hours annually per resident. That level puts Pensacola ahead of Lakeland in volunteer rate, but behind Sarasota, Cape Coral, Daytona Beach and Palm Bay.

> In a Nutshell

Pensacola is a combination of colonial history dating back 450 years to the hurricane-aborted Tristan de Luna settlement attempt, of white-sand tourism, and of military investment that pioneered pinning wings on sailors. But it’s also home to cutting-edge research by world scientists, on projects including developing wheeled rovers to explore the lunar surface. The city’s challenge today is finding the political structure and economic development strategy that will accommodate its differences — and lift the fortunes of the sizable segment of the city’s population that’s economically disadvantaged and educationally underserved.

Tags: North Central

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