Leaders of the Green Economy in Sarasota County
In the last year, Sarasota County’s economy has grown across multiple sectors, diversifying in areas of online marketing, tourism, life sciences, and more. Sustainable Economic Development is one area that has seen exciting growth and innovation. Sarasota County’s history of leadership in sustainability has helped develop a niche of local businesses and professionals who are experts in green building, energy, water, urban agriculture, waste reduction, and other sustainable sectors. In fact, Sarasota County has identified clean technology and green business as one of the targeted sectors it works to grow within our local economy.
At the end of 2017, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Sarasota County announced the recipients of its annual business leader awards and both were from clean technology companies:
- Rod Hershberger, founder and chairman of PGT Innovations received the Clyde Nixon Business Leadership Award. PGT manufacturers ENERGY STAR and impact resistant windows and doors and employs over 2,000 at its Venice manufacturing plant. Expansion of that plant using energy efficient building techniques resulted in the award of $1.5 million in state tax credits over several years through the Sarasota County Sustainable Energy Economic District program.
- Adam Sulimirski, president and co-owner of Cruise Car Inc. received the Ringling College Innovation by Design Award which celebrates local business leaders who have applied creative solutions toward product innovation or market problems. Cruise Car is a local manufacturer of low speed vehicles that are customized for each customer’s needs. These electric vehicles are expanding the reach of electric transportation into new markets and even include the option of solar panels on the roof.
In addition, the Sarasota County region was recently recognized as the 6th best-performing community in the nation based on economic growth. The Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities U.S. index ranks metro areas across the country based on prosperity and innovation metrics that include job creation, wage gains, and growth in diverse high-tech sectors. In the listing for the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area, the report highlighted the natural environment as our area’s primary asset.That natural environment was also the focus of a non-profit ecotourism initiative in 2017 through the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida. The ((ecko)) Tours collaborative effort highlighted and grew local sustainable tourism opportunities by showcasing this area’s natural diversity and cultural heritage while promoting ecotourism partners that have prioritized environmental stewardship in their operations.
It is clear that the green economy in Sarasota County is growing, its leaders are being recognized for their innovation, and our region continues to rank among the top economies and destinations in the country.