Business Florida 2021 - The Regions
Bay • Calhoun • Escambia • Franklin • Gadsen • Gulf • Holmes • Jackson • Jefferson • Leon • Liberty • Okaloosa • Santa Rosa • Wakulla • Walton • Washington
Renowned for its sugar white beaches, bright blue gulf waters and the presence of six major military installations, Florida’s Northwest is unique among all other regions in the Sunshine State. Just two years ago, this place took a hard hit from Hurricane Michael; today it bustles with assets, opportunity and new construction. A great place to live and grow a business, Northwest has plenty of space for new companies and no shortage of skilled workers to staff them owing to the more than 3,000 military retirees who join this region’s workforce annually. Primary industries here include aviation, technology and logistics.
Aviation and Defense
Six major military installations are located in Florida’s Northwest, including NAS Pensacola, Eglin AFB and Tyndall AFB. These facilities account for some 56,000 military and civilian jobs; the privately owned aerospace manufacturers, aircraft maintenance firms, suppliers and Department of Defense contractors are magnets for thousands more.
ST Engineering, a Singapore-based aviation services firm, completed its first 173,500-sq.-ft. maintenance and engineering facility at Pensacola International Airport in June 2018, then it announced plans to build a second facility in summer 2020. Plans call for two more hangars with a combined area of 400,000 square feet over the next several years, bringing ST Engineering’s total footprint at PNS to some 750,000 square feet and more than 1,200 new jobs.
Among other developments in this industry sector:
• Helicopter support: After being awarded a contract to replace the Navy’s fleet of aging training helicopters at NAS Whiting Field, the Italian helicopter manufacturer Leonardo plans to build a comprehensive support center at Whiting Aviation Park. The 100,000-sq.-ft. facility is expected to generate up to 50 new jobs.
• Overhaul of Tyndall AFB: The base, which is located along the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City, took a particularly hard hit from Hurricane Michael two years ago. Now, slated to become home base for three F-35 fighter jet squadrons in 2023, Tyndall will be rebuilt as a “base of the future,” a designation requiring new structures to be capable of withstanding 180-mph winds and resist storm surge. Rebuilding the base is expected to create more than 4,000 jobs.
• Military contract awarded: Niceville-based Dynamic Software Solutions (DS2) has won a multi-year subcontract to assist Boeing’s Tapestry Solutions subsidiary with the development of precision-guided munitions software for a variety of military aircraft, including stealth F-22 and F-35 jets. DS2 plans to add up to 30 new jobs.
KEY PLAYERS: BAE Systems, Farnborough, U.K.; The Boeing Company, Chicago, Ill.; Leonardo S.p.A., Frosinone, Italy; ST Engineering, Singapore