50 Years later, this economic engine has revved up

Today, the University of West Florida pumps $1.1 billion into Northwest Florida’s economy each year. 

UWF is a critical economic engine in Northwest Florida. Our institution diversifies the local economy by providing a talented workforce and contributing to the growth of existing and newly created businesses. 

A recent Regional Economic Model analysis determined that UWF contributes approximately $1.1 billion in revenue and returns $5.39 to the regional economy for every dollar of state support and fees received. UWF also supports more than 11,000 jobs in the region, generating $1.2 billion in income and wages each year. 

As our students complete their bachelor’s or master’s degrees and start their careers, they also contribute to the economy by choosing to live and work in Northwest Florida. A 2015 report by the Brookings Institute estimates that a person with a bachelor’s degree contributes $278,000 more over a lifetime in local spending than a person with high school degree. In comparison, an associate degree holder contributes $81,000 more than a high school graduate. 

When we first planted our roots in 1967, UWF jumpstarted the local economy by providing students with valuable degrees in accounting, computer science and biology that were not available locally. Since then, we have grown to offer bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and specialist degrees in high-demand fields and have become a key leader in 21st century workforce talent development. 

We aren’t alone in our efforts. Universities thrive when they are actively engaged with local businesses undergoing the same growth and that has been a primary focus of the University over the last 50 years. 

We developed a mechanical engineering program at our Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach locations, in direct response to local business and military demand. We are well on our way to meeting that demand, with 177 freshmen enrolled in the inaugural class.

As a national leader in cybersecurity education and workforce development, the UWF Center for Cybersecurity continues to expand its offerings to help fill more than 15,000 open positions in Florida alone.

We worked with key partners to develop an advanced manufacturing design studio in downtown Pensacola that will provide students the skills and experience needed for the 900 traditional and advanced technology manufacturing employers in the region.

These are just a few key examples of how UWF’s rapid response provides the talented workforce and business growth needed to keep pace with a dynamic and sometimes drastically changing economy.

UWF also hosts the statewide office of the Florida Small Business Development Center, which is instrumental to the success of our local and statewide economies. The Florida SBDC is responsible for counseling local citizens looking to grow or expand their small business. Additionally, the Florida SBDC provides emergency assistance to small businesses impacted by disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or flooding.

Over the last 50 years, UWF has not only met the workforce demands of Northwest Florida, we have served as a leader and key partner with companies creating or expanding their businesses in our region. We are responding to workforce demands, but also serving as a leader in developing the workforce of tomorrow.

UWF is hitting its stride as a powerful economic engine. As a regional resource, we are a catalyst for moving Northwest Florida forward.