The City of Sarasota is an internationally recognized destination known for its arts and cultural excellence, exceptional healthcare facilities, premier educational institutions, diverse recreational opportunities, and the vibrancy of its downtown.  It is a place whose reputation far exceeds that of a city its size and still retains its small town feel.  It's no wonder why so many CEO's choose Sarasota for their homes and businesses.


Downtown Aerial


Sarasota is conveniently located along the I-75 corridor approximately one hour south of the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.  The Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport 
 (SRQ) is a short 15 minute drive north of downtown Sarasota and provides year round non-stop service to Toronto, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago O'Hare, Washington DC, and New York's LaGuardia and JFK airports.  During "Season" from November thru April, non-stop flights to Boston and Detroit are also available.  Flights to Newark are available in the Spring.

Tampa International Airport is also one hour north of Sarasota, offering 80 non-stop flights to national and international destinations.

Several manufacturing and distribution business parks are located adjacent to or just several minutes from SRQ airport, providing convienent shipping access. Port Manatee is 35 minutes north of Sarasota on Tampa Bay and is one of Florida’s largest ports.  It is regarded as the closest U.S. deep water seaport to the Panama Canal.  Seminole Gulf Railroad operates on-demand freight service in Sarasota with nearby connection to CSX Railroad.




Sarasota's economy is driven by education, arts, tourism, and financial services.  The cultural arts industry alone employs close to 5,000 people.  Of the estimated 2,031,200 visitors that made Sarasota their vacation destination in 2015, 1,086,220 stayed in paid lodging.  This represents an increase of 8.8% over 2014 and a total economic impact from tourism for Sarasota County of $2,678,268,600.  Sarasota is also a mecca for international visitors from Canada and Europe, with many maintaining second homes within the city.



City Population                 

 Source: ESRI, U.S. Census Bureau, City

Sarasota County Visitors 

Source: Visit Sarasota County



City Form of Government:

  • Commission - City Manager
  • 3 District Commissioners
  • 2 At-Large  Commissioners          

Commissioners appoint the mayor from amongst themselves.   

  • Mayor - Willie Charles Shaw 
  • Vice Mayor - Suzanne Atwell 
  • City Manager - Thomas Barwin  




Office / Retail Vacancy Rates


Represents downtown
 buildings greater than 10,000 sq. ft. that are three blocks north and three blocks south of Main Street within the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area. Currently there are 2,492,482 sq. ft. of office space with a total 11.9% vacancy rate. (source: Adjusted 4rd Quarter 2015 SAR Report issued January, 2016)

Reflects the Downtown, Rosemary and Burns Districts within the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area.
 (source: January, 2016 City inventory)




Cost of Living:
Compared to the rest of the country, Sarasota's cost of living is 3.80% lower than the U.S. average.  The median home cost is $151,400.  Home appreciation continues to rise.


Workforce / Incentives:
Corporate headquarters such as Boar's Head Provisions, Lucid Global and Clockwork Home Solutions are located within the city limits. These and other companies draw upon a diverse regional workforce that continues to grow each year.  The Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County (EDC) provides in-depth on-line information about that work force as well as additional information for site selectors and others. Learn about available State and County incentive programs and all that the greater Sarasota area has to offer businesses.

The City of Sarasota currently has a moratorium on Sewer and Water Impact Fees.  This will be in effect until 2021.  Expedited project review is also offered for green building projects and for development projects that provide affordable housing.

Business License:
Anyone operating a business within the city limits is required to have both a city and a separate county Local  Business Tax Receipt (business license).  Many city Local Business Tax Receipts are under $75. 

Phone: 941-954-4186

1565 1st Street
City Hall Annex, 2nd Floor
Sarasota, FL 34236

City Local Business Tax Receipt Forms


Phone: 941-861-8300

101 S. Washington Blvd.

Sarasota, FL 34236

County Local Business Tax Receipt Forms


  • Sales Tax: Florida sales tax rate is 6%.
  • State Tax: Florida does not have a state income tax.
  • Corporate Income Tax: Corporations that do business and earn income in Florida must file a corporate income tax return (unless they are exempt).
  • Property Tax: Florida Property Tax is based on market value as of January 1st of that year.

Sarasota County Schools is 1 of only 10 "A" Districts in Florida.  Ranked fourth highest in 2014 in student achievement on Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test among the state's 67 county-wide school districts.

Colleges within City limits:

  • New College of Florida - Founded over 50 years ago, New College is the State of Florida's legislatively-designated "honors college for the liberal arts." Ranked #5 nationally among all public liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report for 2014.  It has a total enrollment of 800-850 students.  The student to faculity ratio is 10:1. 
  • University of South Florida, Sarasota/Manatee - Offers over forty bachelor's degree and master's degree and certificate programs in four colleges: Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, Hospitality and Technology Leadership. Day, evening, weekend and online classes serve more than 4,500 students annually.  The student to faculty ratio is 13.1. 
  • Ringling College of Art and Design - Founded in 1931, the college prepares students to be discerning visual thinkers and ethical practitioners in their chosen area of art and design. It is one of the premier colleges of art and design in the western hemisphere.  It has an enrollment of approximately 1,300 students.  The student to computer ratio is 2:1. 

Colleges nearby:

  • State College of Florida - Established in 1957, the college is the region's largest public college, serving 27,000 college credit students annually at several campuses and online. It offers a variety of 2-year Associate and several Baccalaureate programs. It also offers an Accelerated College Program for high school students, enabling them to earn an Associates degree concurrently with a High School Diploma.
  • Suncoast Technical College - Suncoast offers 39 training programs in a variety of technical fields. It offers certificates and continuing education. The majority of Suncoast programs have articulation agreements with other postsecondary institutions that provide students with the eligibility to earn college credits. 


Sarasota Memorial Hospital - Ranked as one of Health Grades America's 50 Best Hospitals every year since 2007. It is "an 806 bed hospital at the heart of Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, a regional medical center. With approximately 4,000 staff members, 800 physicians and more than 1,000 volunteers, it is one of Florida and the nation's largest public hospitals and among the largest employers in the region."


Sarasota's climate is classified as humid subtropical and has short, mild winters and long, hot summers. Monthly average temperatures range from 72 degrees F in January to 91 degrees F in July and August. Monthly average lows vary from 51 degrees in F January to the low 70's during the summer. The year round average is 72 degrees.


  Outdoor Dining        Farmers Market

     Outdoor Dining Year Round                                                                                 Sarasota Farmers Market
                                                                                                                                                  36th year - 70+ vendors.