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Northeast Florida

Florida's Northeast deserves a spot on every CEO's "A-list" for affordability, active lifestyle and prime Atlantic coast location. Its star attraction — Jacksonville — is the northernmost big city on Florida's eastern seaboard, offering easy access to markets in Latin America, the Caribbean and North America.

St. Augustine
Northeast Florida's tradition of welcoming new and expanding businesses began in historic St. Augustine. [Photo: Glenn Hastings]

This seven-county region is growing, and in more ways than one. U.S. Census figures show Flagler as the fastest growing county in the nation with a nearly 23% increase in population projected between 2010 and 2015. Jacksonville's population growth is exceeding 2% per year, and the available workforce is expanding at twice the national average. Jacksonville is an affordable city, too, with a score of 94 against the national average of 100 on the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, and suburban Fruit Cove in nearby St. John's County earned a spot on Bloomberg Business Week's 2010 list of "Best Affordable Suburbs in America."

Who Lives Here

Northeast Florida has a population of 1.5 million, more than half of which resides in Duval County, and a workforce of better than 750,000.

Young talent: Median age in the Jacksonville MSA is 37.7, providing a dynamic workforce that is only slightly above the national median in age and nearly three years younger than the median age for all Floridians. Area colleges and universities graduate 20,000-plus students per year, many of whom join the local labor pool.

Northeast Florida: At A Glance
Northeast Florida
Demographics for the Northeast Region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.
Regional Assets

Universities/Colleges
• Edward Waters College
• Flagler College
• Florida State College at Jacksonville
• Jacksonville University
• St. Johns River State College
• University of North Florida

Airports
• Jacksonville International Airport
• Northeast Florida Regional Airport
  at St. Augustine

Seaports
• Port of Fernandina
• Port of Jacksonville

Spaceport
• Cecil Field Spaceport

Military personnel: 46,000 active duty, reserve and civilian men and women are employed at four military installations. Of the personnel who retire or exit from the armed forces here each year, more than 3,000 choose to remain in the region, carrying the technical skills and strong work ethic they forged in the military to private-sector jobs.

Economic Life

Financial/Professional Services

» Northeast Florida is home to three Fortune 500 companies; another 80 firms have corporate, regional and divisional headquarters here. Approximately 55,000 workers are employed by the region's growing financial services industry.

Healthcare

» World-renowned Mayo Clinic Jacksonville draws patients from around the world to take advantage of its top-notch healthcare services and cutting-edge research in Alzheimer's disease and other chronic conditions.

Aviation/Defense

» Multiple military installations, including Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport, Marine Corps Blount Island Command and the Fleet Readiness Center, are in Jacksonville; the Florida National Guard Headquarters is in St. Augustine. Naval Station Mayport represents the third largest Fleet concentration area in the U.S., combining a harbor that can accommodate 34 ships and an 8,000-foot runway capable of handling any aircraft in the Department of Defense inventory. Alone, Mayport's economic impact on Northeast Florida is $1 billion.

Logistics

» With approximately 40,000 already employed in distribution- and warehousing-related jobs, logistics is one of this region's fastest-growing industry sectors, and with good reason. Northeast Florida boasts some of the Southeast's best connections:

  • Multiple airports, including Jacksonville International Airport, which offers nearly 100 non-stop daily flights to 27 destinations with average ticket prices well below other East Coast hubs.
  • CSX, Norfolk Southern and RailAmerica provide rails from this region that can reach a potential 45 million customers within eight hours.
  • Three interstates — I-95, I-295 and I-10 — intersect at Jacksonville; I-75 is just 60 miles away. Another 17 state and county highways link this region to Georgia and the rest of Florida.
  • International trade is facilitated by two ports — Fernandina and Jacksonville. In 2010, 8 million tons of cargo and more than 518,000 vehicles passed through the Port of Jacksonville alone.
Jaxport
The Port of Jacksonville set records in 2010 for number of containers of 20-foot-equivalent units moved (826,580) and number of vessels calling (1,947). Expansions to accommodate post-Panamax ships are planned. [Photo: JAXPORT]

» Next page: Northeast Florida's quality of life and notable employers

Quality of Life

K-12 education: Jacksonville public school Stanton College Preparatory School earned the No. 4 spot on Newsweek's 2011 ranking of "America's Best High Schools." Five other area schools also made the elite list.

St. Augustine Beach
Amenities here include 90 miles of pristine Atlantic beaches. [Photo: Glenn Hastings]
Sports and recreation: There's plenty to cheer about in Florida's Northeast. Catch the National Football League's Jacksonville Jaguars in the fall or minor league action all summer with the Jacksonville Suns, a double A-affiliate of the Florida Marlins. Golf is always in season at more than 85 elite courses, and pristine beaches stretch for 90 miles along the Atlantic coastline.

Arts and culture: The Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Jacksonville Film Festival, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Museum of Science and History, Jacksonville Maritime Heritage Center and Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens are just some of the region's arts and cultural assets. No surprise that Jacksonville was named to AmericanStyle magazine's 2011 "Top 25 Big Cities for Art." St. Augustine is the oldest European settlement in North America.

Northrup Grumman
Northrup Grumman manufactures the U.S. Navy's E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early-warning aircraft at its Northeast Florida plant.

Notable Employers

Aviation

  • FlightStar Aircraft Services, Cecil Field, Jacksonville
  • Kaman Aerospace Corporation, Jacksonville

Financial Services

  • Bank of America, Jacksonville
  • Deutsche Bank, Jacksonville
  • Fidelity National Financial, Jacksonville
  • JP Morgan Chase & Co., Jacksonville

Life Sciences/Healthcare

  • Availity, Jacksonville
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Jacksonville
  • Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville
  • Medtronic Corporation, Jacksonville
  • Science First, Yulee

Logistics/Transportation

  • Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, Jacksonville
  • Coach Distribution Center, Jacksonville
  • CSX, Jacksonville
  • Ocean Galley Seafood, Green Cove Springs
  • RailAmerica Inc., Jacksonville

Manufacturing

  • Alternate Energy Technologies, Green Cove Springs
  • BAE Systems Ltd., Jacksonville
  • Enkei Florida Inc., Jacksonville
  • Hydro Aluminum, St. Augustine
  • SAFT North America, Jacksonville
  • Union Industries, Jacksonville