Bay • Calhoun • Escambia • Franklin • Gadsen • Gulf • Holmes • Jackson • Jefferson • Leon • Liberty • Okaloosa • Santa Rosa • Wakulla • Walton • Washington
There’s a lot to like about Florida’s Northwest. Known for its white sandy beaches, sparkling blue waters and moderate year-round temperatures, this region offers business owners the best of all worlds — an opportunity to live in paradise and to staff their businesses with skilled aviation, technology and logistics workers who are ready to retire from the military, but not necessarily the workforce.
Aviation and Defense
Florida’s Northwest is home to eight military installations, including NAS Pensacola, NAS Whiting Field, Hurlburt Field, Eglin AFB and Tyndall AFB, which together account for some 56,000 military and civilian jobs. Added to these are many thousand more jobs generated by the privately owned aerospace manufacturers, aircraft maintenance firms and defense contractors that cluster here.
Making news in this sector:
• ST Engineering, constructing its second of four jet aircraft maintenance and repair facilities at Pensacola International Airport with completion of the 177,000-sq.-ft. hangar anticipated by late 2022. When all hangars are completed, ST Engineering will have 700,000+ square feet under one roof and expects to employ at least 1,725 aviation workers by 2028.
• Partnering with Northwest Florida State College’s Aviation Center of Excellence, Hsu Innovation Institute has opened a 27,000-sq.-ft. aviation training center at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview. The facility’s campus, which includes a large hangar and access to an 8,000-ft. runway, will offer instruction for students seeking to compete for high-tech aviation and aerospace jobs with the goal of training to become FAA-certified airframe and powerplant mechanics as well as pilots.
• Construction continues on Leonardo Helicopters’ multimillion-dollar aviation maintenance facility at Whiting Aviation Park next to Naval Air Station Whiting Field. Plans call for Leonardo to move its headquarters and support center to the park over the next few years.
• Boeing Global Services will spend $2.5 million to add 20,000 square feet to its aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul facility in Fort Walton Beach.
• California-based defense contractor American Metal Bearing, a manufacturer of propulsion bearings for the U.S. Navy and NATO allies, plans to build a new headquarters on 11 acres in the Walton County Industrial Park near Freeport.
• UAV Corp. is expanding its Skyborne Technology operations in Gulf County with the goal of making space travel cheaper and more accessible to the public. Plans call for development of a SkySpace airship that could transport passengers to space for about $50,000.
KEY PLAYERS: The Boeing Company, Chicago, Ill.; Leonardo Helicopters US, Philadelphia, Pa.;
ST Engineering, Singapore