The economy of Fort Walton Beach is powered by the military and tourism. Fort Walton Beach is a prominent fishing and beach resort community. The city is bordered by two major Air Force bases, Hulburt Field and Elgin AFB. The bases support sectors such as services industries and military contractors. The defense contracts serve as the foundation for the growth of the region's high technology sectors. Over 350 local technology companies contract with the local military bases. The county is regarded as the leading technology center in Northwest Florida.
A large number of the workers in Fort Walton Beach region are employed by high technology firms. The prominent high-tech sectors in Fort Walton Beach are computer systems design and related services; engineering services and telecommunications services. The high-tech companies provide an average salary that is about double what the remainder of the private sector pays.
Some of the jobs more prevalent in the Fort Walton Beach area when compared to other cities are aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging and systems assemblers; aerospace engineers, aircraft mechanics and service technicians; engineers; electrical and electronic engineering technicians; pest control workers, budget analysts and real estate sales agents.
In descending order, the major sectors for employment in the Fort Walton Beach area are:
- Trade, Transportation and Utilities
- Professional and business services
- Leisure and hospitality
The major private sector employers in the Fort Walton region are:
- Tybrin Corporation - Engineering analysis & software development
- Fort Walton Beach Medical Center - Hospital
- Resort Quest - Real estate sales & property management
- L3/Crestview Aerospace - Aircraft manufacturing, maintenance and modification
- InDyne Inc - Range/test facilities and security systems
- DRS Training & Control Systems - Defense electronics
- North Okaloosa Medical Center - Hospital
- Sverdrup Technology/Jacob TEAS - Engineering services
- Legendary Inc - Development retail
- Okaloosa Walton College - Education
Notable information regarding the Fort Walton Beach region: The county has been rated #2 for business vitality by the Wall Street Journal. The county was included in the best small places for business & careers list by Forbes Magazine. The average salary in Fort Walton Beach in 2009 was $26,000. In 2008, the cost of living index was at 84.3 which is less than the country's average of 100. For the residents over the age of 25, approximately 21% have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Fort Walton Beach companies have access to business organizations such as:
The Northwest Florida Daily News offers current information about the business endeavors in Fort Walton Beach.