North Central Region

North Central FloridaPopulation:
Labor Force:   388,216
Households:  351,337

• Gainesville Regional
• Ocala International Airport

Dominant Cities:
• Gainesville
• Ocala
• Lake City

College Highlights:
• University of Florida
• College of Central Florida
• Sante Fe College

Cultural Features:
• Curtis M. Phillips Center for Performing Arts (Gainesville)
• Florida Museum of Natural History (Gainesville)
• Harn Museum of Art (Gainesville)
• Hippodrome State Theatre (Gainesville)
• Appleton Museum of Art (Ocala)


This largely rural region of Florida borders Georgia to the north with its coastal counties boardering the Gulf of Mexico representing the sweeping “big bend” area of the panhandle.  Agriculture and forestry have a major influence in the region’s economy, along with the research, healthcare, manufacturing and higher education institutions found at the region’s leading population strongholds of Gainesville and Ocala.

Lake City in the northern reaches of the region has earned its identity as “The Gateway to Florida” due to its strategic position in the state’s ground transportation network.  Here I-10 and I-75 intersect resulting in an important junction for commercial and tourism traffic.

The city of Gainesville is most known as the home of the University of Florida, the state’s largest public university with over 50,000 students.  It is here that you also find one Florida’s most intense hubs for research and entrepreneurial innovation thanks to the depth of business disciplines and talent associated with the university.  In particular, the university’s Shands Hospital stands as a leader in healthcare and bioscience research.

About 30 minutes south of Gainesville you come to Ocala.  This area has long been heralded as one of the nation’s leading centers for the breeding and training of thoroughbred horses. The locale has experienced has experienced considerable growth over the last decade aided by manufacturing, its Silver Springs and Ocala National Forest tourism legacy and increasing popularity as a retirement destination.

In the years ahead the hubs of Gainesville and Ocala are projected to experience ongoing growth as North Central Florida continues to gain increasing attention.

Sources: US Census Bureau; Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation; Enterprise Florida Inc.