Hardee County Economic Development Council | 107 East Main Street | P.O. Box 458 | Wauchula, Fl 33873 | 863-773-3030 | info@hardeemail.com
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Complete Guide to Florida’s Top Industries

Introduction to Florida’s Economy and Entrepreneurial Development

Anyone who is from or has ever lived in Florida will tell you that it is a very diverse state. From the expansive nature of the Everglades, to the hustle and bustle to big cities like Tampa and Orlando, there is a lot going on in this great state. Not only are there many different peoples and cultures represented in Florida and many different activities to enjoy, there is a varied economy that is getting stronger every day as well. It is because of this diversity that such an economy can thrive, and the different industries in this state help shape it in such a way that it provides residents with opportunities one would be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

Some of the key facets of economic and industrial growth in Florida involve dedication to the sciences. Agriculture is a prominent feature in Florida because of the crops that are accustomed to growing in our climate, most notably citrus. We as humans can learn a lot about nature in this state as well because of the many different kinds of wildlife that reside here, as well as the different ecosystems that exist in different parts of the state. In the more man-made kinds of science, there are many centers of aviation and aerospace studies, such as the Kennedy Space Center, one of two central hubs of NASA.

Industry also takes off in Florida due to some of the economic centers we have. For example, the tourism that cities such as the famous Orlando and the historic St. Augustine are able to generate a strong economy that thrives off of this, and as such creates many opportunities for businesses to grow. Even beyond the big cities, many parts of Florida are very open to the growth of small businesses, as many of the towns and developments across the state cater well to such opportunity.

We invite you to read further into this guide about the different aspects of economic growth and entrepreneurial opportunity found in this great state of Florida. By learning about this kind of development, you too can learn how to contribute with your own business locally.

Aviation and Aerospace

Florida is a diverse state with a culture that spans across all kinds of industries and fields of study. One might be surprised to learn that Florida is actually one of the highest, if not the highest, ranked states in the country for aviation and aerospace. This is primarily due to the influence of key organizations that reside in Florida, as well as the ever growing network of airports and centers of study for this scientific field.

Unsurprisingly, one of the most notable landmarks for aerospace travel and exploration is the Kennedy Space Center, one of two main home bases for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Many key missions into space have been launched and managed from the Kennedy Space Center, including many space shuttle flights to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA continues to perform research and shuttle launches to the ISS from the Kennedy Space Center, making it both a popular tourist destination, as well as a major employer and proponent of aerospace interest.

In terms of both commercial and scientific aviation, Florida is also one of the most proficient in the country. With about 120 commercial airports, including some of the nation’s largest in the Tampa and Miami, travelers come and go from many of Florida’s cities. Immigration via air travel is also prominent because Florida is a gateway for many Caribbean and South American countries into ours. A number of organizations that support aviation are also based or have major operations in Florida, including BBA Aviation, Boeing, and General Dynamics. The military also have many prominent bases in Florida, including MacDill Air Force Base, which is one of the largest in the country.

Florida is a national leader and proponent of aviation travel and aerospace research. As such, it is a constantly growing industry for anyone who is interested in getting more into this field from a business standpoint. With so many outposts across the whole state, even in Hardee County can this influence be felt.

Agriculture

One of the most prominent facets of the economy in the state of Florida is it’s agriculture.    Although it seems somewhat of a stereotype to those outside of the state, it is no joke that the growing of key crops not only bolsters the Floridian economy, but also assists the whole country by providing such crops that are unable to be grown, or are minimally grown in any other state. Due to the fact that so much of the native economy is rooted in agriculture, there are many opportunities for jobs and businesses to be centered around farming of the crops we can only enjoy to their fullest in Florida.

It will come as no surprise that the most important crops in Florida is the one that it is most famous for: citrus. Almost 80% of all the nation’s orange and grapefruit products are grown in Florida. In addition, Florida is one of the leading producers of citrus based products, particularly oils and preserves that are derived from oranges. In terms of other fruits, Florida is also the country’s single largest producer of watermelons. Both the ideal climate and expertise of farmers attribute to why Florida is so proficient and producing vast quantities of both of these crops.

Florida is also a major grower of vegetable as well, marking it one of the top 3 states in the country that does so. These crops and related ones include tomatoes, potatoes, peanuts, corn, soybeans, and more. Sugar cane is another major crop in Florida as well, having one of the few climates in the country that is capable of growing it in large quantities. A handful of other important products also aid to the agricultural market of Florida, including cotton, tobacco, and hay.

Florida has one of the strongest markets and dedications to agriculture throughout the entire United States. As such, there is always opportunity to build or join with a business that specializing in the growing of one of the above crops and others that are easily and efficiently grown in our state.

Life Sciences

As far as scientific research and application goes, the state of Florida is no stranger to it’s advancements and achievements in the life sciences.    In fact, Florida is ranked 2nd in the entire country for medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing and very high in overall healthcare and biotechnology. This is partially due to the influx of prominent doctors and medical researchers to the state, as well as the fact that Florida is home to many companies that specialize in the research and creation of new medical technologies. Florida is also home to many centers of nature conservation and geological and marine research.

Any of the major cities in Florida, such as Tampa, Miami, and Jacksonville, have excellent networks of healthcare professionals that serve their residents. Ranked among the top four in the nation, these hospitals and medical centers not only provide healing and service to many people near and far, but they also employ many individuals to assist them. Medical research is also prominent in numerous other cities, including Jupiter, which contains some of the most renowned pharmaceutical research and development companies. Medical machines are manufactured in numerous locations throughout the state as well, rounding it off as an excellent hub of premier healthcare.

With regards to the natural sciences, Florida is in a prime location to study all kinds of different habitats. Surrounded on three sides by oceans, many coastal cities have facilities to conduct marine research on natural habitats, as well as provide aid to conserve these ecosystems. With so much open land and unique habitats in between, such as the Everglades, conservationists and researchers also find much to learn and protect within our world around us. This research and tactics is replicated in other parks in environments worldwide.

Florida has a unique focus on the life sciences because it is provided to help so many people through medical research and healthcare and the nature around us through conservation and studies of marine and land environments. There are many jobs and opportunities within these fields in Florida because the demand is so high.

Logistics and Transportation

You might not realize it at first glance, but Florida is actually one of the largest states in the United States of America. It is not surprising therefore that transportation is one of the key facets of the Floridian economy. With a premier highway system, as well as the ability to transport goods and people via sea routes, Florida also has a growing industry in the logistics domain. Many large companies find their home in Florida or have distribution centers within its borders because of this and the ease in which they can operate under the logistics and transportation systems in place.

Florida is a peninsula, so it has a certain advantage that most other states do not when it comes to logistical transportation: oceans. By utilizing the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean, trading companies who operate out of Florida are able to send a receive goods via ship. This applies for both foreign and domestic trade and logistics. The highway system in Florida also allows for  companies to easily ship goods across many of the large cities in the State easily and efficiently.

These travel routes not only apply to the logistics of shipping products, but also are used for the easy traveling of people. Major highways connect all of Florida cities, big and small alike, and therefore expedite travel time between areas. Amtrak also has a railway system throughout the state, so those who wish to take the scenic route by train can. The waterways also allow for the docking and embarking of cruise ships, many of which ship out of Tampa and Miami, making them both relaxing travel methods and tourist destinations.

It is not surprising that one of the largest states in the union has developed some of the best infrastructure. Whether by land or by sea, logistics and transportation are the focus of many of Florida’s companies as well as the state, and both excel at making them as efficient as possible. With new projects to enhance infrastructure and methods of getting from here to there always improving, the growth of this industry is ever increasing.

Manufacturing

It is not only the growing of natural crops that comprise a significant portion of the Floridian economy, but also the manufacturing of man-made goods. With over 19,000 manufacturing companies that are either based in or have significant operations in Florida, the range of products being made and mass produced is staggering. From heavy machinery and tools used in major industry to the production of food items sold in supermarkets across the country, Florida is one of the best states for manufacturing.

The Tampa Bay and Orlando areas respectively are two of the most prominent areas for manufacturing in Florida, but they are not the only ones. The Miami and Jacksonville areas also have manufacturing plants for many different kinds of goods. In Tampa Bay, Coca-Cola and Publix Food Manufacturing lead the production of consumable food items, while Mission Foods and Frito Lay headline the Orlando area. In Miami and Jacksonville, other companies such as Motorola, Swisher, and factories that create aviation machinery headline the production of man-made products. These are only a few of the well-known companies that mass produce in Florida, but there are numerous others, as far as the end of the panhandle all the way south of Venice.

The reason that so many companies choose to manufacture in Florida is because of the good business practices that are prominent within this state. There is a zero percent personal tax for production on the state level and the job market is ever growing with the influx of more companies choosing to do business here. The infrastructure in Florida is also very efficient and allows for easy distribution from the factories and production sites to stores and distribution centers.

Due to the fact that manufacturing makes up a significant part of Florida’s economy, the market is always expanding and the opportunities are there for both employees looking for work or a career boost, as well as new companies looking to enter the business of manufacturing. New companies also have an advantage here because the means of production are readily available to create the products that make businesses strong.

Manufacturing

It is not only the growing of natural crops that comprise a significant portion of the Floridian economy, but also the manufacturing of man-made goods. With over 19,000 manufacturing companies that are either based in or have significant operations in Florida, the range of products being made and mass produced is staggering. From heavy machinery and tools used in major industry to the production of food items sold in supermarkets across the country, Florida is one of the best states for manufacturing.

The Tampa Bay and Orlando areas respectively are two of the most prominent areas for manufacturing in Florida, but they are not the only ones. The Miami and Jacksonville areas also have manufacturing plants for many different kinds of goods. In Tampa Bay, Coca-Cola and Publix Food Manufacturing lead the production of consumable food items, while Mission Foods and Frito Lay headline the Orlando area. In Miami and Jacksonville, other companies such as Motorola, Swisher, and factories that create aviation machinery headline the production of man-made products. These are only a few of the well-known companies that mass produce in Florida, but there are numerous others, as far as the end of the panhandle all the way south of Venice.

The reason that so many companies choose to manufacture in Florida is because of the good business practices that are prominent within this state. There is a zero percent personal tax for production on the state level and the job market is ever growing with the influx of more companies choosing to do business here. The infrastructure in Florida is also very efficient and allows for easy distribution from the factories and production sites to stores and distribution centers.

Due to the fact that manufacturing makes up a significant part of Florida’s economy, the market is always expanding and the opportunities are there for both employees looking for work or a career boost, as well as new companies looking to enter the business of manufacturing. New companies also have an advantage here because the means of production are readily available to create the products that make businesses strong.

Defense and Homeland Security

In today’s world, it can seem like safety is a major concern, even though the United State is one of the safest countries in the world today. This safety however does not happen automatically and is made possible because of the service of our military and personnel responsible for our defense and homeland security. Florida is one of the leading states for this, primarily because of prominent military and defensive bases housing within our state. In addition, many companies that produce the weaponry and technology to enhance our brave defenders conduct their business here in the state of Florida.

Being a coastal state, it should be no surprise to find a number of key bases for the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Mayport in Jacksonville is one of the most well known bases for both the Navy and Marines. The Coast Guard has a main base of operations in Tampa Bay, specifically in St. Petersburg. Not only by sea, but by sky does the military operate effectively in Florida. The MacDill Air Force Base is one of the largest for the branch in the country and is housed in Tampa. The hard work from all our service men and women can be seen in these and more bases spread throughout the state.

Military technology is also produced in Florida in large quantities. Orlando and Tampa are home to some of the largest solution companies, such as Raytheon, Lockheed, and General Dynamics. Tallahassee and South Florida also have numerous centers of manufacturing and research for the machines and items that help our heroes keep our country safe.

The defense and homeland security of the United States of America is not always an easy task, but it is made just a little bit easier by the hard work from military bases and production companies based in Florida.

Tourism

When one mentions the state of Florida, one of the first things that typically comes to mind is the beautiful climate that we enjoy here. For some families, the second thing that might come to mind is fun and engaging attractions like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Both of these things tie into one of the largest industries and facets of the economy in Florida: tourism. Thousands of people visit this state every year from all around the globe, and for good reason. Tourism is also one of the trademark aspects of the Floridian economy and gains a lot from such a rich culture and climate.

Florida is geographically a large state, but it is jam packed with all kinds of fun adventures to go on. Sightseeing is so popular in Florida because of the rich natural beauty found across the state. From the swamps of the Florida Everglades to the caverns and hills in the Panhandle to the aquatic reefs of Key West, there is no denying that nature is alive and well in all its variance in this state. The beaches that line the ample coastline here are enough as well to draw people in for fun and relaxation.

If sun and nature isn’t one’s recreation of choice, there are all kinds of other attractions to enjoy. As noted, some of the most popular for families are the brilliant theme parks found in Orlando, Disney and Universal being the largest. Other engaging activities exist throughout the state as well in nooks and crannies sometimes only the locals know about, but everyone can enjoy. There is a rich historical culture in Florida as well. For example, St. Augustine is the oldest settlement in the United States from European countries, so it contains many historic sites and museums for those interested in learning about the past of this glorious state in addition to its present.

Families, couples, and individuals travel great and short distances to visit Florida and see what it has to offer. Although it would take a long time to take in everything, for it is rich in tourist destinations, there is something for everyone here to enjoy.

Conclusion

As we’ve established in this overview guide, Florida has a rich economy and is home to an ever-growing base of entrepreneurial and industrial development. With so many different facets of its economy, it is no wonder that Florida is one of the most prosperous states in the country.

The aviation and aerospace developments gained through NASA and other organizations has helped build a greater understanding of our world beyond Earth and helps many people today travel faster than ever before. Florida’s commitment to life sciences and expertise in agriculture has fed countless people across the nation and helped people and animals live longer and happier lives. Industrial manufacturing and logistics ensures that business endeavors, backed by our premier financial institutions, are able to function as efficiently and effectively as possible. The operations from defense and homeland security branches has helped keep all Americans safe and the climate and rich history has encouraged tourists to keep coming back again and again. All of these domains are important and together they paint a strong picture of what makes Florida great.

Remember though that it isn’t just the big business and large-scale operations that make Florida so successful and desirable to live in and visit. It is truly the small businesses and local individuals who work hard every day to ensure that not only is the Florida economy always moving in the right direction, but that every person who benefits from it, especially each family that commits to making it better, is able to live and thrive here.

We at the Hardee County Economic Development Council believe that every person who wants to start or manage a small business and grow it as much as they can here in Florida should have that chance. Each person’s success means the success of us all and that is a cause worth supporting. To learn more about how we can help you in your own business endeavors and support the lives of all Floridians, please call us at 863 773 3030.


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