Bucking the perception that Sarasota's tough for young professionals

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SARASOTA COUNTY – Sarasota, with its reputation as a retirement community, might seem to be a tough area for young job-seekers. But some say that couldn't be further from the truth.

“We're trained out of college that we're going to apply in a human resources department, we're going to go in entry level, and we're going to rise up. And unfortunately that's just not the world we're living in right now,” says Joey Panek, creative producer at the HuB.

But he says that in Sarasota, it's at least not as difficult for a young person starting out here as it is in other places. “To have an opportunity to come in and work for yourself, as yourself, with other separate entrepreneurs is really unique.”

Panek is referring to the HuB. “It's a building that houses creative, technical entrepreneurs. You'll have people in the tech field, media, and creative.”

And it's thanks to places like the HuB that Sam Davidson, chair of the Sarasota Young Professionals Organization, says keep young people coming to the Suncoast. “The reality is that Sarasota is not just a retirement haven. It's a great place for young professionals to take their careers to the next level, to raise a family…the key word I like to stress when I talk about Sarasota is opportunity. There is so much opportunity in Sarasota to grow as a young professional, whether it's with an emerging company, or whether it's starting your own company. Entrepreneurism is a booming industry in Sarasota, and there's so much opportunity to grow a small business down here.”

Davidson says with Ringling College, New College, State College of Florida, and USF Sarasota-Manatee all right here, the workforce for emerging industries like technology is already here.

And the initiative is to make Sarasota so appealing, young people stay, and to grow old. “There's the butterfly effect. I'll run into people that like projects we've been connected with, or they like the work they see us doing, and they think ‘oh okay, there's a lot more in Sarasota than I thought there was’.”

But Davidson says the goal isn't for young professionals to just start their careers here on the Suncoast, the goal is to keep them here. And that's one of the main initiatives of the Young Professionals Organization.