St. Armands Circle [Photo: Bill Speer]
» Sarasota County’s economy is dominated by small businesses: Eight of 10 businesses have fewer than 10 employees. The county also has a high number of self-employed people.
» The county has traditionally ranked high in retail sales per capita.
» The top five industry classes for employment are retail trade, healthcare, construction, administrative/waste services, and accommodation/food services.
» Compared to the U.S. overall, Sarasota has an above-average share of jobs both in health and social services and in leisure and hospitality services.
» Largely because of housing prices, the cost of living in Sarasota is higher than in most Florida cities, according to cost-of-living indexes.
» Sarasota County takes part in Florida Economic Gardening Institute’s Grow Florida program and is a regional hub for second-stage businesses seeking assistance.
Jobs in the construction industry nearly tripled between 1995 and 2005. Despite the recent contraction, “the local economy remains perilously dependent on the construction industry as a source of jobs,” according to a report prepared for Sarasota County government by a University of Michigan economist.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital employs one of the world’s best microscopes.
More than 17% of jobs in Sarasota are in the health sector, compared to roughly 11% nationwide.
Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, Venice Regional Medical Center, Doctors Hospital and Englewood Community Hospital are among the area’s biggest employers. Venice Regional is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 100 hospitals for heart care.
A task force established by the Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County is researching ways to stimulate “medical tourism” by capitalizing on the area’s medical facilities, including the Dattoli Cancer Center, a prostate cancer center. The non-profit Roskamp Institute conducts research into Alzheimer’s disease and other neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. The Silverstein Institute treats a range of ear, nose and throat disorders.