Smiling Gulf Power teammates and a bucket truck parked curbside welcomed the Walker family as they returned to their home from work on a hot and humid Florida afternoon. The warm gathering was held to celebrate the military family of four being Gulf Power’s 200,000th residential customer within Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. Gulf Power serves 460,000 customers across Northwest Florida.

Gulf Power teammates, including the lineworkers who installed power to the Walker’s home, helped the family celebrate the company’s huge milestone.

“I was shocked and surprised,” said Chelsea Walker. “It’s definitely so exciting to be a part of this big milestone.”

Keith Hoskins, Western District general manager, presented the family with a plaque and spoke to the company’s monumental moment.

“As we celebrate our 200,000th customer, we’re excited about all the new growth taking place,” he said.

In fact, the population in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties has grown to approximately 490,500, a 4.9 percent growth since 2014. The area is also poised for economic growth according to Sperling’s Best Places to live, with a projected 37.53 percent future job growth over the next 10 years.

A large catalyst for this future job growth is right down the road from the Walkers’ Beulah-based home in Pensacola. Currently employing more than 6,700, Navy Federal Credit Union’s ranks are expected to climb to 10,000 employees by 2026.

Though surrounded by lots of new developments, Brent and Chelsea Walker, along with their two boys, are enjoying making Pensacola their new home. The family moved to the area from upstate New York because of Brent’s job in the Navy.

“We’re a military family that’s used to moving every couple of years,” said Chelsea. “Since moving, we have really loved the area. We get the best of both worlds: a hopping town and we can still see the stars at night. I really wish we could just stay here.”

As more families like the Walkers continue to move here for employment opportunities and as businesses expand, Hoskins said Gulf Power is proud to be the energy company investing in the region’s economic health and looks forward to the continued growth.

 “We know we’re only as good as our people,” Hoskins added. “The Gulf Power team has a strong history of serving our customers and the communities we live in. As Northwest Florida continues to grow, Gulf Power is committed to meeting the energy needs of our customers today, tomorrow and into the future.”