Business Florida 2016 - The Regions
South Central Florida
Expanding companies first attracted to South Central Florida for its natural beauty and wide open spaces soon discover that this relaxing environment offers plenty of business advantages too. This region’s location in the heartland of Florida means that approximately 85% of the state’s entire population is within a 150-mile radius. The workforce in these six counties alone tops 100,000; another 4.4 million workers can be found in contiguous counties. Population density in this region averages just 42.2 persons per square mile compared to the statewide average density of 355.
Here, where cattle lands, citrus groves, sugar cane fields and subtropical foliage still dominate the landscape, three interstate highways, Florida’s Turnpike, four U.S. highways and 12 state roads provide ready links to airports and seaports in key Florida cities and to important markets throughout the Southeast. Additionally, this region is bisected by the Okeechobee Waterway, a system of navigable rivers and canals linking Florida’s east and west coasts through Lake Okeechobee. South Florida State College, offering three campuses and Associate of Arts degrees in more than a dozen fields of study, celebrated its 50th anniversary in February 2015.
WHO LIVES HERE
31% of South Central’s nearly 252,000 residents are Hispanic, compared to the state’s Hispanic population share of 24%. At 50%, Hendry County has this region’s largest concentration of Latinos, with Hardee County a close second at 43%.
Farmers, ranchers and more While South Central’s location in Florida’s heartland has contributed to an increase in the number of firms engaged in distribution and manufacturing, agribusiness remains the dominant industry sector here. Four of the top five citrus-producing counties in Florida are in this region as are two of the top three counties for cattle. In fact, South Central’s six counties together represent 31% of Florida’s overall cattle/calf herd.