Nassau Florida stands at the precipice of change. An evolutionary thrust brought about by rapid population expansion and urbanization that has altered not only the physical and natural environment but also the social and cultural dynamics of the community. These changes have reshaped the manner in which we interact with our environment and the individuals/entities that comprise our community.
Nassau Florida consists of 726 square miles of natural beauty located in the northeast corner of Florida along the Atlantic Ocean and Interstate 95. Nassau borders Duval County (Jacksonville) and is less than 10 miles from the Jacksonville International Airport. The county-wide population is just shy of 100,000 fulltime residents and is part of the Jacksonville MSA which boasts a regional population of over 1.6 million. The latest population estimates from the US Census Bureau revealed that Nassau’s population expanded by 7.02% from 2020 to 2022. This extraordinary growth rate ranks Nassau as the 65th fastest growing County out of 3,145 counties in the United States. In addition, according to Lightcast's Talent Attraction Scorecard, from 2016-2020, Nassau County ranked as the #1 small county [<100,000 pop] in the Nation for Net Migration and Talent Attraction.
This exceptional growth rate is not an anomaly. Over the next fifteen years (2020-2035), the BEBR predicts Nassau will to be the seventh fastest growing county in the State of Florida (by %) with a projected population expansion of 44.6% resulting in over 138,500 people calling Nassau home by 2035.
Even so, population expansion is only part of the story. Along with more people comes additional development in the form of retail and job centers, roads, schools and other improvements to support the increased population base. According to a joint study of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, University of Florida GeoPlan Center and 1000 Friends of Florida, by 2070 roughly a third more of Northeast Florida’s open spaces and agricultural lands will be urbanized (developed).
However, unlike many communities, Nassau has been granted an opportunity that most never had, an opportunity to actively craft their future. The question remains: What will we do with the opportunity?
In this era of transition it is crucial that we promote a collaborative, community-based approach to governance that places quality-of-life and generational sustainability at the apex of decision making. We must place people at the center of planning, policy and design decisions. In doing so, champion an agenda that values maintaining the unique character of Nassau Florida so generations to come will know the place we have all come to love. Ultimately, Nassau is what we make it.