Florida Trend

Florida Small Business



December 19, 2018

Business Florida 2018 - The Regions

Bounding Forward

| 9/22/2017


Fort Walton Beach was named among USAA’s top 10 best places in the U.S. for veterans to become entrepreneurs; 6,000 personnel retire from military service region-wide each year.

48% of residents over age 25 in Florida’s capital city Tallahassee have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to the U.S. average of 30%.

  • Population / 1,459,145
  • Labor Force / 666,854
  • Households / 592,128
  • Total Earnings / $33.56 bil.
  • Median Per Capita Income / $33,971
  • Total Retail Sales / $20.45 bil.
  • Universities/Colleges / 9
  • Commercial Airports / 4
  • Seaports / 3

Renowned for its clear blue water and white sandy shores, Florida’s northwest region abounds with opportunity in all industry sectors and the skilled workforce needed to meet their demands.



BAY COUNTY GKN Aerospace will create 170 jobs with the opening of its first manufacturing facility in Florida at VentureCrossings near Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. The U.K.-based firm with more than 60 locations and 17,000 employees worldwide is a leading builder/supplier of the advanced aerospace systems, components and technologies used in helicopters, compact business jets and the largest passenger planes.

PENSACOLA VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering broke ground in fall 2016 for a hangar at Pensacola International Airport. The maintenance and engineering facility – large enough to accommodate two Boeing 777s or four 757s or six Airbus A-320-sized aircraft — is expected to open in early 2018 and create 400 jobs.

PANAMA CITY In fall 2016, Eastern Shipbuilding was awarded the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest-ever vessel procurement contract — a $10.5-billion deal — to build 25 next-generation Offshore Patrol Cutters. Construction is expected to begin in 2018. Eastern currently provides jobs for more than 1,500 workers, but expects to hire additional craftsmen, engineers and administrative staff at full ramp-up of the contract.

MARIANNA To accommodate growth in sales of its kit helicopter products, Safari Helicopter has moved into a larger building at Marianna Municipal Airport and expects to grow its workforce from nine to 20.

TALLAHASSEE Faculty and students at Florida A&M University (FAMU) are assisting Lockheed Martin with NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Program and other projects. Over the next five years, Lockheed Martin will provide up to $5 million in funding to FAMU by commissioning work related to space exploration. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor building the Orion crew vehicle, NASA’s first spacecraft designed for long-duration, deep space human exploration. FAMU is the first historically black college or university to participate in these efforts.

Key Players

The Boeing Company | Fort Walton Beach
InDyne | Fort Walton Beach
Lockheed Martin | Fort Walton Beach
On-Point Defense Technologies | Fort Walton Beach

Defense activities account for one-third of northwest Florida’s economy and nearly 182,000 combined military and civilian jobs. Located in this region are: Eglin Air Force Base, the USAF’s largest by area and, alone, home to 38,000 personnel; Tyndall Air Force Base; Hurlburt Field; Whiting Field; and Naval Air Station Pensacola, where the legendary Blue Angels train and the National Museum of Naval Aviation attracts 1 million visitors annually.

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