Florida is not a center of heavy industry, and many of its manufacturing activities are related to agriculture and exploitation of natural resources. Leading industries include food processing, electric and electronic equipment, transportation equipment, and chemicals. The value of manufacturing shipments in 1997 totaled $82 billion for the state. Florida's major industrial categories, in terms of value of shipments, were electronic equipment, 15.2%; printing and publishing, 11.8%; food, 11.4%; and chemicals and allied products, 9.1%.
From 1980 to 1990, manufacturing grew by 14.4% in Florida, while declining 6% nationwide. The share of manufacturing to GSP declined marginally from 10.7% in 1977 to 7.6% in 1997. Florida ranks 2nd only to California in both employment and number of firms engaged in the manufacture of guided missiles and space vehicles; 10% of all US aircraft engines and engine parts are manufactured in Florida. Nearly 20% of the nation's boat manufacturers are located in the state. Electric components are primarily manufactured in three east coast counties (Brevard, Palm Beach, and Broward), where about half of the state's electronic component workers reside, Since the perfection of the laser by Martin-Marietta in Orlando in the 1950s, the greater Orlando area has grown to have the 3rd-highest concentration of electro-optics and laser manufacturers in the US.
The cigar-making industry, traditionally important in Florida, has declined considerably with changes in taste and the cutoff of tobacco imports from Cuba. In the late 1930s, the Tampa area alone had well over 100 cigar factories, employing some 10,000 people. The 1987 Census of Manufactures found just 35 plants statewide. In 1997, cigar manufacturer Havatampa Inc. sold up to $25 million in cigars in the US and abroad.
Manufacturing is currently concentrated in and around Florida's largest cities, such as Miami, Tampa–St. Petersburg, Ft. Lauderdale–Hollywood, and Orlando. Dade and Broward counties (Greater Miami), Hillsborough County (Tampa), Pinellas County (St. Petersburg), Duval County (Jacksonville), Orange County (Orlando), and Palm Beach County account for almost two-thirds of all manufacturing employment.
In 2000, there were 14 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Florida, including Autonation, Tech Data, Winn-Dixie Stores, Publix Super Markets, Office Depot, CHS Electronics, FPL Group, Ryder System, Florida Progress, Harris, Darden Restaurants, Interim Services, Lennar, and Budget Group.
Earnings of persons employed in Florida increased from $229.7 billion in 1997 to $248.3 billion in 1998, an increase of 8.1%. The largest industries in 1998 were services, 33.6% of earnings; retail trade, 11.6%; and state and local government, 11.5%. Of the industries that accounted for at least 5% of earnings in 1998, the slowest growing from 1997 to 1998 was durable goods manufacturing (5.6% of earnings in 1998), which increased 4.7%; the fastest was finance, insurance, and real estate (9.2% of earnings in 1998), which increased 8.4%.