Marianna, Florida – Jackson County

April 22, 2024

Marianna, Florida

A City as Charming as it is Dynamic


Navigating Heritage, Growth, and Opportunity in the Sunshine State

The charming city of Marianna, Florida is a special place, with longstanding close-knit community values, and a promising future. Founded in 1827, the city, which has been the seat of Jackson County for over 100 years, is home to top-notch schools, and rich recreational offerings, and is continuously working to diversify its economic presence and bring jobs to its 6000 residents.

Mayor, John Roberts, boasts, “Marianna is a great place to live and raise a family. Most people who come to Marianna, once they come here fall in love with it and never want to leave.”

Kay Dennis, Director of Municipal Development, continues, “It is heaven on earth. It is a beautiful environment. We have passive recreational opportunities all over the place, caves and trails. But the best thing about Marianna is the people. The people are wonderful here.”

A Resilient Community

The city’s population of 6,000 may not accurately represent the broader community, as Roberts depicts, “Marianna has constricted city limits and most of all the growth that has taken place has been outside of the city limits. If you were to draw a circle around the center of Marianna and go out miles, you would find the population is around 20,000.”

With State restrictions limiting the ability to bring additional areas into the city limits, Marianna has had to adapt, extending services into outlying areas. “People do like city services,” remarks the mayor. “We do furnish all the city services out on the interstate and some services out of the outlying area. We have a state-of-the-art sewer treatment service plant, and we have excess capacity. The county furnishes the infrastructure to get the sewage to us and then we treat it.”




A Diverse Employment Landscape

A city-owned 180-bed nursing home which was opened in the 1960s and was previously called Marianna Convalescent Center. In 2017, a major addition to the building was added and that house a state-of-the-art physical therapy center and the name has now changed to Marianna Health and Rehab. This health facility has continued to benefit the community. “We have 100 city employees that do all the maintenance work and utilities, and the nursing home has 200 employees. That is a tremendous asset to the city,” Roberts says.

“Marianna is a place that depends a great deal on federal and state employment.” He relays that the presence of a federal prison in the city, as well as 2 state-run prison facilities and Jackson Hospital in the county, are significant contributors to the local economy.

City Manager, William Long, emphasizes the community’s strong ties to agriculture, noting that Marianna is an area that was once dominated by small family-run operations. “There’s not that many small family farms anymore,” he explains.

“The farms are all large, and it takes that kind of growth, and that kind of land to make a profit.” Marianna is home to cattle ranches, including Bar L Ranch, owned by Herman Laramore, and other extensive farming operations, producing crops such as peanuts and cotton, as well as a wood  plant that employs 100 people.

The presence of a Family Dollar distribution center, another main employer, further reflects Marianna’s economic diversity. “It employs around 800 people from all over Jackson County and all over the area,” Mayor Roberts conveys.

In addition, Roberts shares plans for expansion at Marianna Municipal Airport, describing, “It has almost a brand new building there that does traffic control and everything. We have extended that runway recently. It has a 6000-foot runway, which is a long runway for a little Municipal Airport.”

Acting as an army air base during WW2, and later a training facility for pilots during the Vietnam War, the airport has a military history. Long adds that the facility offers military fueling and has intentions to expand on this. Further plans include a flight training program.

“We believe there’s sufficient interest in the area among young people. There’s some talk about partnering this program with Chipola College. We’re ready to bring people, bring money, bring economic development to our community, and we think the standing up of this flight training program will help,” he says.

Education and Healthcare

Chipola College has been a valuable part of the city since 1947. Long recounts, “It began as a community college, but now Chipola offers several four-year programs. They have a nursing program. There’s a public service component there that does law enforcement and public safety training as well.”

“There are several workforce programs beyond traditional academic programs, which include cosmetology, civil engineering technology, building construction technology, and automobile technology. Chipola is a super asset here for this community,” he adds.

With a myriad of healthcare offerings that are uncommon for such a small city, Jackson Hospital has 100 beds and 40 physicians, including primary care, and specialists.

“There is some subspecialty work that happens here. Chemo, infusion therapy for cancer patients, they don’t have to drive out of town to receive that service,” says Long. “We’re doing knee replacements or shoulder surgery here in Marianna, we have an ENT physician here, and we deliver babies here as well.”

Revitalizing Downtown and Community Development

David Melvin, of DHM Melvin Engineering, talks about development in the city, and the ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown Marianna.

He states, “Five years ago, we had Hurricane Michael. That was pretty devastating to our community, but fortunately, there’s a blessing out of that curse, with the grant funds that have become available for us to do some renovations and improvements. We have in the works, grants to redo the streets, primarily focusing on Market Street downtown.”

This initiative includes the demolition of a dilapidated building at a main downtown intersection, creating space for future development. Melvin shares his vision, which includes the Market Street project becoming the new Main Street, offering an attractive space for businesses, pedestrians, and events, and overcoming the challenges posed by the busy US Highway 90 which cuts through the center of the community.

“We’ve got a farmers market area that lends itself well to outdoor events and this Market Street will be able to tie into that as well. So, we think we’ve got some exciting days ahead,” he says.

Marianna boasts two solar farms, which provide power to the area near the WasteWater Treatment Facility and the Airport. The City of Marianna also provides multiple Natural Gas fueling stations and uses natural gas fueled cars.

Honoring its roots, Marianna is committed to preserving its historic landmarks, like St. Luke Baptist Church, an African American church that was damaged during Hurricane Michael. “It sits on one of the highest hills in Marianna, and it was closed and in a little bit dilapidated condition. We’ve gotten some African American historical grant funding to revitalize that. It’s got a gas-lit tower on it and we are going to make that an observation platform and do some very nice lighting to it. It’ll kind of become the beacon of Marianna.”

The revitalization efforts extend to the former Dozier School for Boys, once the largest juvenile detention facility in the nation, which closed in 2011 after 111 years of operation. Through a city and county collaboration, the 1278-acre property will be transformed into a cutting-edge autism transition program, a Civic Center, and a museum.


Housing Development and Infrastructure

Marianna is taking a proactive approach to stormwater challenges, investing in projects like the Kelson Street pond to manage the significant rainfall that the area experiences.

“That will be a pond that will significantly impact and help stormwater pooling that takes place over in one area of town,” says Long. “We have a second stormwater project that’s in play that will become a mega-regional stormwater pond, about 120 or so acres, just south of Marianna.”

He notes that this second project is a collaboration with the neighboring community of Alford.

On the housing side, Mayor Roberts reports that the city is working in partnership with Jackson County to bring residential development to 300 acres on the former Dozier site.

“There’s a real shortage of affordable workforce housing in our area,” he acknowledges.

“The county’s looking at soliciting developers to develop that 300 acres and the city will be extending the water, sewer, and natural gas into that development. That will meet a real need in our community.”

Dennis says that the last year has seen the introduction of two new apartment complexes in the community. She expands, “One is under construction right now, and one was recently constructed. Each houses about 35 units. And we’ve got a habitat subdivision that has 7 lots. That has just been platted and construction will begin soon.”

Strong Partnerships for Sustainable Growth

When it comes to the key partnerships that contribute to the continued success of Marianna, and the whole region, Mayor Roberts maintains, “We’re all one big community. We look at it as, if it is good for the city of Marianna it’s good for the county.”

Long says the accomplishments of the city can be attributed to collaborations with entities from the Main Street program and Chamber of Commerce to the Economic Development Council, David Melvin, and Jackson County.

“All of those people, all of those groups, are instrumental. We try to work as one, we try to work as a big team and erase the territorial lines. What we know is it takes all of us to make this happen. We all have something we bring to the table,” he remarks.

This spirit of collaboration, combined with a progressive and forward-thinking approach will continue to move Marianna towards a future of growth and success.


Marianna, Florida

What: A vibrant city of 6000

Where: Jackson County, Florida



Chipola College –

Chipola Ford –

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