Northwest Florida has numerous unique assets that provide regional businesses with the tools and resources they need to succeed, including a strong transportation network, skilled labor force, robust network of research centers and a competitive business climate. The region has three deepwater ports, three airports and several foreign trade zones.
Six military installations are located within the region, making it a highly desirable location for defense related companies. This also contributes to a substantial concentration of former military members in the local workforce. An estimated 6,000 highly skilled military personnel separate from the area bases each year with many choosing to stay in one of the most-military friendly areas in the country to seek second career opportunities.
Florida continues to be ranked as one of the top states for doing business. According to a 2017 survey of U.S. corporate executives conducted by Development Counsellors International Florida ranks 2nd in the nation for having the best business climate. This year, the Tax Foundation ranked Florida as having the #1 tax climate in the Southeastern U.S. A major factor in this top ranking is the fact that Florida offers a 0% personal income tax.
Workforce & Education Advantages
Being the third most populated state in the country, Florida has a workforce of over 9.5 million with the depth and breadth to fill a range of positions.
Florida has the resources, workforce and business climate needed to support many industries, but there are particular advantages for companies within the aerospace and defense, advanced manufacturing, health sciences, renewable energy and environment, transportation and logistics, information technology and research industries. These types of companies can benefit from special tax incentives, workforce training programs, and other resources designed specifically to help new and expanding businesses operating in these sectors.
Northwest Florida’s targeted industries include:
Northwest Florida is ideally located central to several major original equipment manufacturers in the Southeastern US including Boeing, Gulfstream, Embraer, and Airbus. Considered a global leader in the aerospace, aviation and defense, the region is home to more than 500 businesses operating in these sectors.
Close Proximity to Major Military Installations
There are six military installations within the PowerSouth service area in northwest Florida: NAS Pensacola (Escambia), NAS Whiting Field (Santa Rosa), Naval Support Activity Panama City (Bay), Eglin Air Force Base including Duke Field (Okaloosa), Hurlburt Field (Okaloosa) and Tyndall Air Force Base (Bay).
Available Property with Aerospace Assets
There are aviation-specific property and buildings available inside and outside of the fence near our region’s airports. These properties include access to runways allowing for testing and development opportunities. Property is available at Okaloosa County Industrial Park, Whiting Aviation Park (Santa Rosa County – under construction), and Northwest Florida Beaches Airport (Bay County), among other locations.
Skilled Aviation Workforce
With nearly 44,000 active duty Air Force, Navy and Army personnel and more than 19,000 civilians employed in aviation, aerospace, and defense, northwest Florida’s workforce is second to none. The dedicated and highly skilled workforce includes scientists, engineers, production workers, and information technology specialists.
Over 6,000 active duty military members separate from the area bases each year and enter the workforce for their second careers. This highly specialized talent pool includes many individuals with aviation specific training and security clearances.
Aviation-specific programs are available at the high school level, and there are several aviation related higher education programs in the region, including the University of Florida Research and Education Engineering Facility (REEF) near Eglin Air Force Base.
VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Inc. (VT MAE) is an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company with special expertise in modifications and engineering services. They recently decided to expand their operations by constructing a 173,000 square foot hangar at the Pensacola International Airport that will house 400 new workers. The company is making an investment of over $3 million dollars and will be operational at their new northwest Florida facility in early 2018.
GKN Aerospace is the world’s leading multi-technology tier 1 aerospace supplier. In 2017, they chose to construct a new manufacturing facility at VentureCrossings near the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City, Florida. The company will be hiring 170 new employees and making an investment of over $50 million. They plan to be operational in November 2017.
Quality of Life
Residents of northwest Florida enjoy an unsurpassed quality of life. The area has a mild climate and an abundance of recreational opportunities. Known for its beautiful beaches, the region also offers a diversity of other experiences.
Northwest Florida is known best for its white sandy beaches and year-round mild climate. This climate makes the region a great place for outdoor recreation such as hiking and camping at one of the area's state parks or golfing on the award winning, celebrity designed courses throughout the region.
The more metropolitan areas feature museums, visual and performance art, music, and other cultural attractions. Additionally, the region's charming rural communities offer distinctive experiences such as cave diving, rodeos, festivals and residential offerings with plenty of room to grow!
Top Ranked Education System
Those lucky enough to call this area home can choose between several “A” rated educational institutions for themselves or their families. An emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), Project Lead the Way and Career High-Skill Occupational Initiative for Career Education (CHOICE) Career Academies offer students industry recognized certifications and college credit.
Florida State University Panama City and the University of West Florida are located in Northwest Florida, providing a high level of post-secondary education. Additionally, the region has many other two-year and four-year colleges and universities that provide a wide range of degree programs.