Business Florida 2020 - The Regions
On the Rise
Alachua • Bradford • Columbia • Dixie • Gilchrist • Hamilton Lafayette • Levy • Madison • Marion • Suwannee • Taylor • Union
Life & Leisure
Plenty to Enjoy Outdoors and In
North Central’s 13 counties offer plenty to see and do. Visit Florida’s newest state park, Gilchrist Blue Springs, then take a walk on the wild side at Ocala National Forest (watch out for bears!). And do make time for a visit to Cedar Key, a quaint old Florida fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico in Levy County where a stop at Tony’s for a bowl of his award-winning clam chowder is worth the drive.
And of interest at or near UF: The Florida Museum of Natural History; the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art; the Cade Museum for Creativity & Invention; and a whole bunch of Gator sports, including baseball, basketball, football, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball and lacrosse.
A Great Place to Live and Work
Business owners looking to hire eager young workers will find them in North Central. The millennial talent pool in Alachua County is nearly 50% greater than the national average, and the unemployment rate here hovers at around 3.5%.
The website Livability.com consistently names Gainesville to its annual list of the “Top 100 Best Places to Live” nationwide, citing affordability and access to education among the contributing factors to its selection. In 2018, Gainesville was No.9 on Livability.com’s “10 Best College Towns” for its mix of arts and culture, outdoor recreation and nightlife, in addition to the University of Florida’s educational amenities.
Real Horse Capital of the World
When people think of horse farms, they typically picture Kentucky — when they should be seeing Florida. Marion County has long called itself “Horse Capital of the World,” and in 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to make that title official. With close to 600 horse farms, breeding and training facilities spread across 700,000 acres, the horse business is big business here … and it’s about to get even bigger as the World Equestrian Center takes shape in northwest Marion. While the full development, including indoor and outdoor arenas, a five-story hotel, some 525,000 square feet of commercial space and 2,400 homes, won’t be complete until 2021, the competition facilities are expected to open in late 2019.