Tourism is the primary element of Sarasota's economy. A large number of jobs are provided by manufacturing industries including wood products, hydraulic valves, machine parts, magnetic sensors, aviation equipment and electronics. Software development firms also provide numerous jobs in the Sarasota area. Companies involved in the shipping industry, including citrus provide employment. Education, healthcare and social services are also prominent sectors for employment. Management, professional and related occupations provide 27% of the jobs and about 25% of the workforce are in sales and office jobs.
Some of the jobs more common in Sarasota than most of the nation's other cities include construction and related workers, zoologists and wildlife biologists, fiberglass laminators and fabricators, skin care specialists, pest control specialists, ophthalmic laboratory technicians, tile and marble setters and nuclear medicine technologists.
Accolades for Sarasota: The city has been named by Forbes Magazine as the 44th best places to live and do business out of the largest 150 metro areas in the nation. Expansion Magazine ranked Sarasota as the sixth best metropolitan area for standard of living in the nation. Money Magazine named Sarasota as the country's best small city. Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Sarasota as the sixth best medium-sized city in the nation.
The Young Professional Group is a popular Sarasota County networking organization for professionals from 21 to 40 years of age. The organization has over 800 members from a wide variety of careers and industries.
The largest employers in the Sarasota area:
- Publix - Grocery store chain
- School Board of Education - Education
- Tropicana Products Inc - Fruit juice producer
- Bon Secours - Venice Hospital & Healthcare
- PGT Industries - Manufacturer of custom doors, windows and patio rooms
- Walmart - Retail
- Winn Dixie - Grocery store chain
- Doctors Hospital of Sarasota - Hospital and outpatient services & affiliates
- Sun Hydraulics - Designer and manufacturer of hydraulic cartridge valves and manifolds
- Dooley and Mack Constructors Inc - Construction managers, general contractors
- Vengroff Williams & Associations Inc - Credit and collection agency; accounts receivable management
- Pinnacle Towers Inc - Telecommunication tower acquisition and site management
- W.G. Mills Inc - Construction manager, general contractor
- Taylor Woodrow Inc - Community developer
- Comdial Corporation - Develops and markets communications solutions for businesses and government organizations
- L-3 Communications Aviation Recorders- Manufactures cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders.
- Administrative Concepts Corp- Employee administration
Noteworthy information about Sarasota: In 2008 the cost of living index was 90.9 which is less than the nation's average of 100. In 2009 the average salary was $25,000. About 17% of the residents have a bachelor's degree and approximately 9% have a graduate degree. Sarasota is a popular retirement area.
Sarasota companies have access to business organizations such as:
- The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce
- Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County
- Florida Economic Development Council Inc
The Herald-Tribune offers up-to-date information regarding the business activities in Sarasota.