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Northwest Region

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Northwest Florida   by

Florida’s Great Northwest is filled with copious amounts of readily available land and cost effective utility and labor rates, making business operating costs more practical. Additionally, the area has the infrastructure necessary to support businesses, including Interstate 10 (running east-west across the entire region), 3 deep water seaports (2 of which are designated Foreign Trade Zones) and 4 commercial airports.

The region also has a strong government and military influence which has further developed a highly-skilled labor force and facilitated the growth of the area’s key industries: Aviation/Aerospace/Defense, Semiconductors, and Information Technology.
Numerous companies in the Aviation/Aerospace/Defense industry are clustered in the community to supply the several military installations in the vicinity. Additionally, the area is being prepped for the Microelectronics industry by having one certified Semiconductor site opportunity available, and three more certifications currently in process.

Well-known educational institutions and special research centers in the region include Florida State University’s National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, University of West Florida’s Institute of Human and Machine Cognition, and the University of Florida’s Graduate Engineering Research Center.

Home to the state’s capital, Tallahassee, the area has much to offer and plenty of room for growth. Eight counties within the Great Northwest region are designated rural areas of critical concern in which companies can take advantage of increased incentive awards and free assistance with the hiring process. Opportunity Florida, the regional economic partnership, is focused on strengthening business in these rural counties: Calhoun, Franklin, Liberty, Gulf, Gadsden, Jackson, Holmes, and Washington counties. Coupled with the region’s top-rated beaches and a business friendly attitude, Florida’s Great Northwest is ripe for expansion.

In 2005, Florida’s Northwest Region was home to more than 1.3 million people, an increase of over 18,400 from 2004. This region’s growth rate continues to outpace that of the nation, with domestic migration accounting for 80% of its net migration. With these new residents, Northwest Florida’s racial and ethnic mix continues to become increasingly diverse. The population of Northwest Florida is younger than that of the state as a whole.

Population Growth

Northwest Florida’s population continues to grow at a relatively faster rate than that of the U.S.
Between 1995 and 2005, Northwest Florida’s population grew by 14.2%, while that of the state and the nation grew by 22.4% and 11.3%, respectively.
From 2004 to 2005, this region added about 18,425 people, at an annual growth rate of 1.43%, to bring its total population to more than 1.3 million people.


In 2005, net migration accounted for an increase of over 6,000 people into the Northwest Florida Region. Of this increase, domestic migration accounted for about 79% and international migration about 21%.
Santa Rosa County received the largest number of net domestic immigrants, totaling 4,289. This county alone accounted for 60.5% of the Northwest Region’s domestic migration.

Escambia County led the region in net international migration, with 534 net international immigrants, which accounted for 40.3% of Northwest Florida’s net international migration.

Population by Age

Northwest Florida's population is younger than that of the state as a whole.

In 2005, nearly 35% of the region’s population was younger than 25 years old, which is about 3 percentage points higher than Florida’s share of the same group.

At the same time, the elderly population (65 and over) accounted for 13% of Northwest Florida’s population and 17% of the population of the state.

Racial & Ethnic Diversity

Much like the rest of the state, Northwest Florida’s racial and ethnic mix has become increasingly diverse over the last decade.

From 2000 to 2005, the Non-Hispanic White share of Northwest Florida’s population dropped by about one percentage point.

During this same time period, Northwest Florida’s Hispanic population grew to reach nearly 4% while that of the state as a whole grew to about 19.5%.
Between 2000 and 2005, Northwest Florida’s Asian, Pacific Islander, and Black populations also continued to grow in size.


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