Santa Rosa County is located at Florida’s western tip, at the center of the United States Gulf Coast. Its proximity to major markets on the east coast, in the central U.S and Texas make Santa Rosa County the ideal business location. With an estimated 167,009 residents, Santa Rosa County is the 30th most populous county in the state of Florida. Created in 1842 and named for the Roman Catholic Saint Rosa de Viterbo, Santa Rosa County is often divided into three distinct sections: South Santa Rosa, Central Santa Rosa and North Santa Rosa.
South Santa Rosa County comprises the area from Holley and Navarre in the east to Gulf Breeze at the western end of the Fairpoint Peninsula, and along U.S. Highway 98. A section of Santa Rosa Island, containing the unincorporated community of Navarre Beach, is also part of South Santa Rosa County. Major bodies of water including Santa Rosa Sound, Pensacola Bay and East Bay strongly influence the housing and lifestyle of citizens in the southern part of the county. South Santa Rosa is the fastest growing region in the county.
Central Santa Rosa County is the area north of the bays and south of the extensive forests separating it from North Santa Rosa. The central section developed along “The Old Spanish Trail” that ran from St. Augustine on the Atlantic Ocean all the way to New Orleans, and further points west. Today, U.S. Highway 90 closely parallels the old trail. The county seat, Milton is located where the trail crossed the Blackwater River. To the west of Milton, the fast-growing community of Pace have turned the west central part of the county into one large “bedroom community” for people who work in the industries here and in Escambia County, to the west. Interstate 10 also passes through this section of the county.
Northern Santa Rosa County is forest and farming country. The only town in the north is Jay. Most development has been along State Road 4 which runs through the northern sections of Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties. A large oil and natural gas field around Jay produced a great deal of oil, and made many farmers millionaires in the 1970s and 1980s, but the field has been depleted and is producing little oil today. The citizens have, for the most part, returned to farming and forestry for their livelihoods.
A Board of County Commissioners serves at the legislative and policy setting body of Santa Rosa County as established under Florida Statutes. The board enacts all legislation and authorizes expenditures within the county. The board comprises five members representing districts 1-5, elected county-wide.
District 1 (Pace) Sam Parker
District 2 (Milton Region) Bob Cole
District 3 (Jay Region) Don Salter
District 4 (Navarre Region) Rob Williamson
District 5 (Gulf Breeze Region) Lane Lynchard