The region known as Florida’s Heartland is located in South Central Florida. The region is designated by the State of Florida as the South Central Rural Area of Critical Economic Concern (South Central RACEC). The geographical area is delineated by:
- A population estimated at 300,000 (Census.gov Annual Estimates July 2009)
- A land area of 5,000 square miles
- Six rural, inland counties plus four rural communities:
- Counties of: DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, and Okeechobee
- Tri Cities of The Glades in western Palm Beach County: Belle Glade, Pahokee, South Bay
- Community of Immokalee in eastern Collier County
37 communities make up the Region:
|Rural County||Community Name||Rural County
||Moore Haven ^||25||Highlands||Sebring ^|
||Ft. Green Springs||29||Okeechobee||Basinger|
||Wauchula ^||31||Okeechobee||Fort Drum|
||Zolfo Springs||32||Okeechobee||Okeechobee ^|
|33||Okeechobee||Up The Grove Beach|
Rural Cities Outside of the 6 Counties
35 Pahokee in Palm Beach Co.
36 South Bay in Palm Beach Co.
Rural Community Outside of the 6 Counties
Major strengths and attributes of our region
- Central location provides convenient access to Florida and to North America by way of easy access to multiple metropolitan areas, international airports and deep seaports.
- 14 deepwater seaports
- 19 commercial airports
- 2 commercially licensed spaceports
- A consumptive population of 15 million is within an hour’s radius.
- 3.5 million workers live within a 1-hour commute of our region.
- Roads with less congestion. Traversing through or near the region are:
- Three Interstate Highways
- One Florida Turnpike
- Four U.S. Highways and
- 12 State Roads
- Available land is competitively priced for doing business.
- The Sate of Florida offers a process of streamlined permitting. Certified Projects receive many benefits, including pre-application meeting of regulatory agencies and business representative held within 14 days after eligibility determination.
- Workforce training and higher education institutions (see assets blow).
- Tax incentives unique to rural counties (see below).
- It costs less to do business in Florida because of Florida's limited corporate taxes and no personal income tax.
- Picturesque, natural environment with an abundance of freshwater streams, rivers and lakes, and native flora and fauna.
- Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in Florida, and the second largest freshwater lake contained entirely within the lower 48 states.
- Abundant opportunities for nature-based tourism: bird watching, photography, stargazing, camping, boating, paddling, hiking, hunting, fishing, visiting parks, and bicycling.
- The region is inland and has a higher elevation, which protects us from costal flooding.
- Temperatures stay moderate year round; a mix of subtropical and tropical climate conducive to many outdoor sports, especially golf.
- Friendly, small towns rich with local history and abundant natural, cultural
FHREDI Regional Data & Statistics
|County Name||Population (2009)||Avg. Monthly Employment (2008)||Average
|Per Capita Income (2008)||Civilian
|Unemployment Rate (%)
|FHREDI Totals and Averages||257,047||11,559||$28,327.00||$13.62||21.4%||$24,046||18,397||16,303||2,094||11.3|
|Florida Totals and Averages||18,750,483||7,661,162||$40,568.00||$19.05||13.3%||$37,780||9,235,450||8,198,372||1,037,078||11.2|
|Population: Office of Economic & Demographic Research, 2009|
|Employment: Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, Labor Market Statistics Center, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, 2008|
|Wages: E Florida, Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, Labor Market Statistics Center, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, 2008|
|Poverty: U.S. Census Bureau, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, 2008|
|Per Capita Income: Regional Economic Information System, Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce, 2008|
|Labor Force: Labor Market Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program, April 2010 Monthly Not Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force,
Employment and Unemployment Data
|Unemployment: Labor Market Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program, April 2010 Monthly Not Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force,
Employment and Unemployment Data