Key Economic Sectors in Sarasota County
More than 13,000 people worked in the county’s construction industry in 2017, a 4% increase over 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. While most construction has been residential, major developments in the works include hotels, multi-million-dollar attractions and a sports venue.
The city of Sarasota leads in mixed-use and high-rise development, clustered in and around downtown. In the past three years, the city has gained 4,000 residential units, primarily around downtown. Twenty-eight projects are under construction, and another 46 are planned.
- The Quay on the downtown waterfront is the largest private development in downtown Sarasota. Jacksonville-based GreenPointe Communities broke ground in May on the $1-billion mixed-use project that will include condo towers, apartments, restaurants, retail and possibly a hotel. Build-out is expected to take seven years.
- Adjacent to the Quay, the city plans to redevelop 52 acres of public land along Sarasota Bay that currently includes arts facilities, an auditorium and a public boat launch. The preliminary design for The Bay project includes space for a new performing arts center, renovation of existing historic buildings, underground parking, a large public park, an amphitheater, an iconic pier and a redesigned boat launch. The project is expected to cost up to $150 million, not including the cost of the performing arts center. It is anticipated to take up to 25 years to complete.
- Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is raising funds for a $67-million redesign and expects to break ground within a year. Mote Marine Laboratory plans to build a $130-million aquarium and education center along I-75 with construction to begin in 2019, contingent on fundraising efforts.
- Lakewood Ranch, the secondfastest growing planned community in the United States in mid-2018, plans to build 5,000 homes in Sarasota County, which until now has only housed commercial pieces of the development.
- To the south in North Port and unincorporated Sarasota County, the West Villages ranks as the fifth-fastest growing masterplanned community in the nation for the second year in a row. Mattamy Homes and Vanguard Land partnered in the 15,000-acre development that has been approved for 33,000 units. About 4,000 homes have been sold and roughly 1,000 more are under construction. Prices range from the low $200,000s to $600,000. The project will also include a town center and a $100-million Atlanta Braves spring training complex, which is scheduled to be completed by 2020.
Health Care and Life Science
- The Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System is the county’s largest employer. Sarasota Memorial Hospital has received the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ top rating for four consecutive ratings periods. It has more than 800 hospital beds and plans to build a 90-bed hospital in Venice starting next April.
- Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, also top-rated by the CMS, opened an emergency center in Lakewood Ranch. “We saw a need for high quality emergency care in this area,” says Robert Meade, CEO of Doctors Hospital of Sarasota.
- Venice Regional Bayfront Health is replacing its existing hospital with a 210-bed facility.
- Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, a 120-bed hospital, is undergoing a $20-million expansion.
- The Roskamp Institute seeks cures for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and addictions.
- Shared Services Center provides office support like billing, call-center customer service and data entry.
- CAE Healthcare manufactures medical patient simulators.
- RPS, a biotech firm, makes point-of-care tests for rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases.
- Dattoli Cancer Center & Brachytherapy Research Institute specializes in non-surgical prostate cancer treatment.
The percentage of Sarasota’s economy constituted by manufacturing is slightly larger than the state average. Nearly 8,400 people worked in manufacturing in 2017, a 1.2% growth over the prior year. Combined with neighboring Manatee County, the area has an estimated 600 manufacturers and related businesses, according to the Sarasota-Manatee Manufacturers Association.
- Many manufacturers are small to medium sized, such as RND Automation and Engineering, a custom machine builder. Others are among the county’s largest employers, including publicly traded PGT Innovations, a window and door manufacturer in Venice. In March, PGT opened a 7,500-sq.- ft. child-care center for its 2,000 employees.
- ASO, which has a division headquarters in Sarasota, is a major producer of adhesive bandages.
- L-3 Communications makes flight “black box” recorders.
- CruiseCar, a manufacturer of low-speed vehicles, now also assembles and sells the European Electric Moke at its home base in Sarasota.
- Sun Hydraulics, a manufacturer of screw-in hydraulic cartridge valves, continues to grow, recently acquiring the Italian Faster Group, a global manufacturer of quick-release hydraulic couplings.