Unlocking Manasota: Developments for the SRQ Region

Todays News

BY OLIVIA LIANG SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY AUG 13, 2019

On Thursday, August 8, the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance hosted a State of the Community Luncheon with presentations by Cheri Coryea, the Manatee County Administrator, and Jonathan R. Lewis, the Sarasota County Administrator. This sold-out event demonstrated the unified efforts of the SRQ region and revolved around a refreshingly simple concept: growth.

In its most recent Citizen Survey, Sarasota County reported that 97% of the surveyed described their overall quality of life as excellent (45%) or good (52%), which is up from previous years. And not only is the region growing, but growing up and out. With the expansion of Lakewood Ranch moving the population east and SRQ Airport recently being named the second fastest growing airport in the nation, the population is up 9,200 people in solely Manatee County since 2018. And “we are ready for that,” says Coryea, demonstrating natural disaster preparedness plans and newly established infrastructure, like 225 additional miles of road since 2008.

Tourism continues to grow, with Nathan Benderson Park bringing in a net $47 million for sports tourism in the past year. And between the rebranding of the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in downtown Bradenton to the institution of roundabouts to regulate the flow of school traffic on Honore, the expansion of the Legacy Trail for resident-use and the construction of the new Atlanta Braves Spring Training Stadium that was widely funded by the private sector and will be owned by Sarasota County, the region shows no signs of slowing. Sarasota County’s social media presence has been consolidated to three main accounts (Government, Play and Emergency) and can reach an average of 8,000 people per day, and plans for new East/West, North/South roads will link and advance both counties more than ever.

But one looming presence seemed to unite the two counties more than any other: water quality. With red tide and blue and green algae blooms affecting the “economic lifeblood of the state,” according to Lewis, both counties agree that the improvement of water quality “needs to happen on a statewide basis.” But at the same time, “we can’t wait on everybody else,” added Lewis, referencing the June Sarasota County Water Quality Summit with 700 attendees, demonstrating the active and current conversation surrounding a proposed $150 million wastewater treatment plan that would improve drinking, fishing and swimming water, in combination with a $5 million septic-to-sewer program.

“[Water quality is] a joint effort but it’s clearly going to be a main topic for the next year or two,” says Coryea.

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