...To most people from the outside, the area's economy is most closely associated with tourism. New Orleans, home of Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street, remains one of the nation's favorite destinations. Since the early 1990s South Mississippi has benefited from the presence of casinos. The
beaches of Northwest Florida for years have attracted visitors. ...But beyond tourism, the region's traditional economic pillars have been offshore work, chemicals, shipbuilding and the military. What's less well known is the research that has been conducted in the region. ...The Central Gulf Coast is home to 150 federal and
university research units involved in everything from artificial intelligence to stem cell research. Most of the federal research is conducted by Department of Defense, but a considerable amount is spent on space- related R&D by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. ...Thirteen universities with interests in the region spent $851.2 million in fiscal year 2006 on R&D, with industry providing $33.7 million, according to the National Science Foundation. The region’s innovation infrastructure also includes science and technology parks, technology transfer offices, incubators and more.
Military ...It is not possible to talk about the economy of the region without talking about the military, which has a huge and ongoing impact on the region. Bases range from the huge Eglin Air Force Base complex in Florida to smaller bases, like the Seabee facility in Gulfport. It's also home to a range of outlying fields that dot the region. ...While the military has operational combat units as well as test and evaluation operations, one of the more significant activities is the role is in the field of education, most notably in applied technology/technical training. Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., has the largest technical training wing in the Air Force. That, combined with the technical training done by the Navy at Pensacola and Milton, gives the Central Gulf Coast a technological bent that is not widely known.
Sectors ...Within this broad research umbrella are at least five research-backed clusters - aerospace, shipbuilding, advanced materials, geospatial and marine science. Some have attracted and support a network of associated businesses and applications, while others are still developing but have a huge potential. Perhaps more important, the clusters in the region have a high degree of synergy and crossover. ...While that’s important in a number of fields, it’s essential for the nation’ s defense-related activities. Systems integration and the formation of a network-centric fighting force forms the foundation of the Defense Department’s vision of tomorrow’s battlefield. An area that has activities in multiple areas of that mix – including the room for testing – stands to benefit. ...Over the years the corridor’s clusters have become home to operating units of some of the biggest names in industry. Northrop Grumman alone has two dozen operations in the region, while Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, United Technologies, Boeing, Computer Sciences Corp., Science Applications International Corp. – a who’s who of corporate America – all have multiple operations. Significant for this region is that those are the corporations that are creating the nation’s next generation fighting force.