Northwest Florida, also known as the Florida Panhandle, is a 12-county region that extends along the Gulf of Mexico from Pensacola, on the western border of Florida, to just east of Marianna. The region occupies a unique geography in Florida, abutting the southern borders of both Georgia and Alabama, as well as the north-western boundary of the Florida peninsula.
The twelve counties of Northwest Florida include: Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington. The region also includes three Metropolitan Statistical Areas:
- Fort Walton Beach MSA (Okaloosa County and Walton)
- Panama City MSA (Bay County and Gulf)
- Pensacola MSA (Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties)
Northwest Florida includes a permanent population of 1.4 million and a workforce exceeding 700,000. In addition, the region attracts millions of visitors annually, due in large part to the extensive coastline along the Gulf of Mexico, where the beautiful white sand beaches are consistently rated among the best in the world.Due to its unique location within the State of Florida, Northwest Florida is proximate to all Southeast U.S. markets.
The region is attractive for all types of economic development projects, including those requiring access to deep water or barge facilities. The region’s higher education institutions, including three research universities - Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and the University of West Florida provide cutting-edge research across a wide range of disciplines, and the region’s military installations support a broad range of companies and provide a continually renewing source of skilled and dedicated workers.
As a result of these regional assets, Florida’s Great Northwest, the regional economic development organization, has identified the following key target industries that are thriving in Northwest Florida:
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Aviation, Aerospace, and Defence
- Health Sciences
- Renewable Energy
- Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics
Throughout Northwest Florida, relocating and/or expanding businesses will find an exceptional quality of life, quality educational institutions, diverse transportation assets, and a pro-business leadership that realizes the importance of growing and diversifying the regional economy.
Northwest Florida, a global leader in the Aerospace, Aviation and Defence sector, is home to the following military bases, five of which are aviation-related:
- Pensacola Naval Air Station
- Whiting Field
- Eglin Air Force Base, including Duke Field
- Hurlburt Field
- Naval Support Activity Panama City
- Tyndall Air Force Base
With nearly 44,000 active duty Air Force, Navy and Army personnel and more than 19,000 civilians employed in Aviation, Aerospace, and Defence, Northwest Florida’s workforce is second to none. The dedicated and highly skilled workforce includes scientists, engineers, production workers, and information technology specialists.
The unique concentration of military bases has attracted many of the largest U.S. defence contractors, international companies, and commercial aviation businesses to Northwest Florida. These companies, together with the Department of Defence, are engaged in a variety of cutting-edge research and development activities. In addition, there is a regional university-based research and development infrastructure which includes Florida State University, the University of Florida, Florida A&M University, and the University of West Florida, with university centres of research in Aero-Propulsion, Robotics, Commercial Space Flight, and Composite Materials & Systems.
The Gulf Coast is home to one of the largest concentrations of aviation, aerospace, and defence assets in the world, and Northwest Florida is a major component of that geographic cluster. In addition to the skilled workforce and cutting edge research and development, the region offers a variety of aviation-focused business and industrial parks, including many with direct “through the fence” airfield access.
Expansive areas of restricted airspace over land and the Gulf of Mexico make Northwest Florida an ideal location for test and evaluation activities, including testing of unmanned air systems, where the Panhandle has become a global leader. With a dedicated and skilled workforce, university research and engineering support, and buildings and sites tailored specifically to aviation-related companies, Northwest Florida is the ideal location for defence related companies, as well as both commercial and military aviation and aerospace companies looking to locate or expand their business.
For more information go to www.floridasgreatnorthwest.com .