Expanding companies first attracted to south central Florida for its natural beauty and wide open spaces soon discover that this relaxing environment offer plenty business advantages, too. This region's location in the heartland of Florida means that approximates 85% of the entire state's population is within a 150-mile radius. The workforce in these six counties alone tops 100, 000; another 4.4 million workers can be found in contiguous counties. Population density in this region averages just 42.2 persons per square mile compared to the statewide average density of 355.

Here, where cattle lands, citrus groves, sugar cane fields and subtropical foliage still dominate the landscape, three interstate highways, Florida's Turnpike, four U.S. highways and 12 state roads provide ready links to airports and seaports in key Florida cities and to important markets throughout the Southeast. Additionally, this region is bisected by the Okeechobee Waterway, a system of navigable rivers and canals linking Florida's east and west coasts through Lake Okeechobee. South Florida State College, offering three campuses and Associates of Arts degrees in more than a dozen fields of study, celebrated its 50th anniversary in February 2015.

Continue reading at Florida Trend's Business Florida 2016 online magazine here.