Sarasota and Venice have some of Florida’s finest beaches. The county has an above-average share (13.2%) of jobs in leisure and hospitality compared to the national average of 10%.
St. Armands Circle is a signature destination, along with the Mote Marine Laboratory, the Ringling family’s mansion, Ca’ d’Zan, the Circus Museum and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Top-tier accommodations include the Ritz-Carlton and the Longboat Key Club & Resort, which has completed a multimillion-dollar renovation. Recently, the county approved plans for a rowing facility aimed at creating an international rowing destination.
Pound for pound, Sarasota is Florida’s most arts-intensive community, a major strength in the creative-class era of economic development. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art has an international reputation, and downtown Sarasota is dotted with galleries. The area boasts Florida’s oldest continuing orchestra, locally based opera and ballet companies, a number of professional theater companies, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and FSU’s Ringling Center for the Performing Arts, including the Asolo Repertory and the school’s film program. Employment in arts-related companies constitutes nearly as large a share of total employment as those companies do in Manhattan.
While the financial service sector’s share of jobs in Sarasota mirrors the national average, the area’s wealth has attracted more than 50 financial institutions, including private banks like Harris that cater to high net worth customers.
The most notable among higher education institutions in Sarasota are New College of Florida and the Ringling College of Art and Design. New College, the Florida university system’s honors college, consistently ranks among the country’s best values in education and is among the top 10 schools in the nation in producing Fulbright fellows. Ringling, which offers degrees in fine arts, computer animation and graphics, is consistently ranked among the top 10 visual art and design schools in the Americas. The area also is home to the fast-growing USF-Sarasota Manatee campus and the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota, which recently began a nursing degree program and an energy management degree. State College also operates a middle school and a public charter collegiate high school that will offer a full scholarship to graduates who attend Florida Gulf Coast University in nearby Lee County. Also nearby in Bradenton is the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, which graduated its first class locally in 2008 and added a pharmacy school in 2007.
Sarasota is also home to a regional campus of the FSU College of Medicine, the Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training, a satellite of Eckerd College, the Sarasota County Technical Institute and several for-profit universities, including Argosy and Keiser.
State College of Florida
The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport serves more than 1 million passengers a year. Airlines include Delta, AirTran, Air Canada, US Airways and JetBlue, which recently expanded service.