North Central Florida
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North Central Florida is a region of the U.S. state of Florida which comprises the north-central part of the state and encompasses the North Florida counties of Alachua, Marion, Putnam, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, and Union. The region's largest city is Gainesville, home of the University of Florida and center of the Gainesville metropolitan area, which is the largest metro area in North Central Florida. As of 2020, the region had a population of 575,622 people.
Like the rest of North Florida, including the Florida Panhandle, the region is often recognized as part of the Deep South, as compared to the rest of the state.
The landscape and climate of North Central Florida are distinct from the sub-tropical environment most associated with the rest of the state. The landscape of North Central Florida has gently rolling hills dominated by magnolia trees and large Southern live oak hammocks draped with Spanish moss. The region also has large expanses of pine forests. The climate is quite mild throughout the year but has very distinct winters with temperatures dropping below freezing quite often.
Cities and towns
- Cedar Key
- Cross City
- Fanning Springs
- Fort White
- High Springs
- Horseshoe Beach
- Keystone Heights
- Lake Butler
- Lake City
- Live Oak
- Otter Creek
- White Springs
- Worthington Springs
As of 2016, the region had Florida's largest concentration of 18 to 44-year-olds and people with advanced degrees thanks to the presence of the University of Florida and Santa Fe College in Gainesville.
The City of Alachua is home to one of the State's largest bio and life science corporate sectors.
Overall, education and healthcare are the leading employers in the region as several major hospitals are located in Gainesville such as the UF Health Shands Hospital, HCA Florida North Florida Hospital, and the Malcolm Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Tourism is central to communities such as Cedar Key, White Springs, and Micanopy.
Leading employers as of 2016 are:
|Corporation||Industry||Number of Employees|
|1||University of Florida||Education||27567|
|2||UF Health Shands System||Healthcare||12705|
|3||Veterans Affairs Medical Center||Healthcare||6127|
|4||Alachua County School Board||Public Education||3904|
|5||City of Gainesville||City Government||2072|
|6||HCA Florida North Florida Hospital||Healthcare||2000|
|7||Gator Dining Services||Food Service||1200|
|8||Nationwide Insurance Company||Insurance||960|
|11||Santa Fe College||Education||750|
|12||Wal-Mart Distribution Center||Grocery||738|
|13||Dollar General Distribution Center||Retail||600|
|14||RTI Surgical||Orthopedic/Cardio Implants||518|
The following institutions of higher education are located within North Central Florida:
- University of Florida - Gainesville
- Santa Fe College - Gainesville, Alachua, Starke, Archer
- Florida Gateway College - Lake City
- North Florida College - Madison, Live Oak
- College of Central Florida - Chiefland
- North Florida Technical College - Starke
- City College Gainesville
North Central Florida is world-renowned for its fresh water springs and rivers which make it one of the best cave diving regions in the world. Several of the springs are connected to the Suwannee and Santa Fe River systems, some of the more popular being:
There are a large number of nature parks and cultural centers throughout the area such as:
- Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
- Big Shoals State Park
- Suwanee River State Park
- Ichetucknee Springs State Park
- Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park
- Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Florida pioneer life in the 1800s is the focus at both Morningside Nature Center and Dudley Farm Historic State Park. There are several small, turn-of-the-century towns that represent the culture of the Deep South and are geared toward tourists:
Several museums of note spanning topics such as local and natural history, science, and art are:
- Florida Museum of Natural History
- Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
- Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention
- P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History
- University Galleries
- Gainesville Fine Arts Association Gallery
- Matheson History Museum
- The Historic Thomas Center
- Cedar Key Museum State Park
- Micanopy Historical Society Museum
- Forest Capital Museum State Park
Gainesville is home to notable performing arts venues like the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, University Auditorium, Constans Theater, and The Hippodrome Theater. The Gainesville Orchestra has been performing regularly since 1983.
The most popular sporting events are the major sports associated with the University of Florida in Gainesville, including Florida Gator Football, Basketball, and Baseball. Gatornationals is one of the most important annual drag races for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).
- ^ "North Central Florida Regional Planning Council". www.ncfrpc.org. Retrieved 2022-07-21.
- ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
- ^ "Deep South". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
- ^ "Gainesville Florida Population and Demographics Resources", Retrieved 2011-06-30
- ^ a b c "Economic Development". Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 2022-10-25.
- ^ "Florida's Life Sciences and Health Industry". Enterprise Florida. Retrieved 2022-10-25.
- ^ "A Guide To Florida Springs Diving | Scuba Diver Mag". www.scubadivermag.com. 2021-02-19. Retrieved 2022-10-25.