Brunswick, Ga., nicknamed "the shrimp capital of the world," lies on the Atlantic coast just 30 miles north of Florida.
The city itself has a population of about 16,000 people, but the MSA is closer to 102,000, making it the 12th largest in Georgia.
Also known as the gateway to the Golden Isles, Brunswick was founded in 1771, with the Royal Prince of Georgia planning the port city in the same grid pattern style used in Savannah. George Washington took notice and proclaimed Brunswick as one of five original ports of entry into the colonies back in 1789.
Its foundation as a port city lives on today as shipping and cargo processing remain some of Brunswick's main industries. The Port of Brunswick is the fourth-largest automobile port on the East Coast. A number of foreign car companies use the port as its main shipping center, including Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, Mitsubishi and Volvo. The post is used as an export center for Ford and GM.
Its location on the Atlantic also makes it a prime area for catching shrimp, crab and oyster. Unfortunately, recent shrimp production has been below average. Construction and building also supply a lot of jobs to the Brunswick area, a major part of which is related to the fishing and shipping industries.
In addition to the large number of physical laborers, the hospitality industry employs a number of people in the area in restaurants, gift shops and tourist attractions. A number of local businesses cater to tourists with boat tours, diving trips and fishing excursions. The health care industry is also a major segment of the economy as it is the largest health care market between Jacksonville and Savannah. The Southeast Georgia Health System hospital employs more than 1,300 people. In addition to serving the surrounding land community, the hospital also has a program to treat seamen coming into the port, treating about 15,000 merchant seafarers each year.
Unemployment is consistent with the national average of 10 percent.
Much as it was modeled after Savannah in its inception, Brunswick still takes after the "Hostess City of the South" with its large concentration of historic buildings - second only to Savannah - and ongoing renovation of its Victorian-style architecture. The downtown area has a number of bed and breakfasts, lighthouses and museums.
But for all its beauty, Brunswick trails the rest of Georgia in many categories. The median income in 2008 was about $31,000, nearly $20,000 less than the rest of the state. More than twice as many people live below the poverty level in Brunswick compared to the rest of the state. Brunswick trails the state in education as well. The area has more people without high school degrees than the Georgia average, and about 10 percent of the population has a college degree. The number of renters is above the state average as well.
Crime also remains a problem in the area. Overall crime has been rising steadily over the past decade, and the index currently sits about three times higher than the national average. The number of robberies and assaults have more than doubled in the past 10 years. The number of people in jail is higher than the state average.