The Jacksonville metro is comprised of five counties, covering a total of 2,636 square miles south of the Georgia border. The area has a humid subtropical climate with mild winters and hot summers.
The Jacksonville metro consists of Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Nassau, and Baker counties. Duval is the most populated county, with nearly 875,000 residents. Jacksonville is the largest city in the metro followed by Lakeside and Fruit Cove. The metro's population is projected to grow at 1.2 percent annually over the next five years.
Once rooted in its military bases, the commercial port and paper mills, the Jacksonville economy has begun to diversify, as reflected in the four Fortune 500 companies now based in the metro: Winn-Dixie, Fidelity National Information Services, Fidelity National Financial and CSX.
The city has developed a large financial services sector, led by Bank of America, Fidelity National and Citibank. The professional and business services sector has also risen in importance, accounting for 16 percent of total employment. In addition, Jacksonville has an emerging industrial base in medical products research and manufacturing.
JAXPORT provides a $19 billion annual economic impact to the Jacksonville metro. More than 8 million tons of cargo pass through the port each year and the development of cruise ship service will promote further expansion. Facilities at the port are being expanded to handle the larger ships that will pass through the widened Panama Canal.
The military remains a large part of the economy, with two naval facilities and more than 25,000 people employed locally. Many of the naval personnel who retire from the military stay in the area because of its affordable housing and career opportunities.