Northwest Florida’s unique geographic location within the State of Florida makes it an ideal location for companies involved in transportation, distribution, and logistics (TDL). The Panhandle is a major TDL center, providing quick and easy access to the rapidly growing Southeastern United States. In fact, companies can reach virtually all primary southeastern markets within a one-day truck haul from anywhere in Northwest Florida.
Northwest Florida has an outstanding transportation infrastructure. The region is home to four commercial airports (Pensacola, Tallahassee, Northwest Florida Regional Airport near Fort Walton Beach, and Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport near Panama City, the only major new airport to be constructed in the United States since 9/11/2001). The region also offers 17 public general aviation airports, two deep-water ports, both of which are designated Foreign Trade Zones, and a barge port with direct Intracoastal Waterway and Gulf of Mexico access. Interstate 10, Northwest Florida’s main east-west connector, spans the entire region, connecting Jacksonville, Florida, with Los Angeles California, and providing easy, single-day access from Northwest Florida to the Ports of Jacksonville, Mobile, and New Orleans.
A major CSX rail line, which runs parallel to I-10, is intersected by numerous short line railroads, providing direct rail access to the region’s ports, as well as Norfolk Southern. The region offers intermodal opportunities for companies that ship by truck, rail, and ocean carrier, providing excellent access for companies involved in importing and exporting. Port Panama City, with its six deepwater berths, Foreign Trade Zone status and 200-acre Intermodal Distribution Center, is a significant regional asset, as is the Port of Pensacola. The 65-mile short-line Bay Railroad begins at the Port of Panama City and provides access to both CSX and Norfolk Southern. The Port of Port St. Joe in Gulf County provides unique opportunities for companies that require barge access to the Intracoastal Waterway and/or the Gulf of Mexico. These transportation assets, coupled with the new 4,000-acre Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport near Panama City in Bay County, make Northwest Florida an ideal hub for international trade.
The region is home to numerous manufacturers and distributors, as well as specialized transportation companies serving those customers. One of the largest distribution centers in Northwest Florida is the Family Dollar distribution center, which occupies over 1 million square feet adjacent to Interstate 10 in Jackson County. Family Dollar serves stores in four states from the Jackson County location. Family Dollar, like many other transportation, distribution, and logistics companies, was attracted to Northwest Florida because of the region’s skilled and dedicated workforce, transportation infrastructure, and proximity to the Southeastern United States.