November 15, 2019

Community Portrait

Sarasota and Sarasota County are Growth Magnets

Lynn Waddell | 8/30/2018

From Sarasota County’s northern border with Manatee to Charlotte County on its southern edge, signs of growth are everywhere. Start with downtown Sarasota, the county’s professional and cultural heart. New condos, apartment buildings, high-rise hotels, tony shops and offices are up or in progress all around downtown. The city of roughly 57,000 has seen 4,000 new housing units in the past three years. Sarasota is experiencing what City Manager Tom Barwin says is “probably the biggest growth spurt in the city’s history.”

Sarasota isn’t even the largest city in the county any more. In the county’s southern tier, North Port, with more affordable housing and a younger population (median age of 44), is now home to about 66,000 residents. Ruth Buchanan, North Port economic development manager, calls it “the workforce engine for the metro area.” The influx of new residents is dominated by wealthy Baby Boomer retirees but includes young families and entrepreneurial millennials. Overall, the county’s population has grown by 16% since 2010.

Fueling all the growth is the area’s wealth, a healthy economy and a high quality of life. The county’s barrier island beaches rank among the finest in the world. Sarasota’s arts and cultural scene tops that of many cities three times its size. It has top-rated hospitals, and its public schools rank among the state’s best. It’s home to a campus of Florida State University’s medical school, the highly regarded Ringling College of Art and Design and New College, the honors college of the State University System. named the Sarasota MSA the nation’s best for young entrepreneurs. WalletHub ranked Sarasota the No. 1 Florida city for jobs in 2018.

Tags: Sarasota Community Portrait

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