November 28, 2023
Sarasota waterfront rendering
Plans for 52 acres of public space on the bayfront include a pier and an amphitheater.
Lakewood Ranch
Lakewood Ranch is expanding its residential footprint into Sarasota County.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital
Sarasota Memorial Hospital is one of the 10 largest public hospitals in the country.
PGT, with 2,000 employees, continues to expand in Sarasota.
St. Armands Circle
Retail and dining attract visitors to St. Armands Circle.

Community Portrait

Key Economic Sectors in Sarasota County

Lynn Waddell | 8/30/2018


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.

Tags: Sarasota Community Portrait

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