Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is the home of about 19,500 residents. The city that is often called the “Emerald Coast” is home to the University of West Florida, where students can earn Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Art degrees in a variety of fields, including hospitality, computer engineering, business, and criminal justice. Students can also earn their Master of Business Administration and their Master of Social Work degrees, along with their doctorate in curriculum and instruction. Northwest Florida State University shares the campus with the University of West Florida with an emphasis on training workers for industry.
About 28,000 people are employed at either Elgin Air Force Base or Hubert Field. These two facilities are considered vital to the nation's defense because missiles and bombs are often tested here. Many smaller industries are located in the area to support these two military bases. The second large economic force is the tourism industry. The number of people in Fort Walton Beach grows dramatically during the summer and at spring break. In addition, the city is growing a solid reputation with older adults looking to get away from the brutal winters in the northern United States.