SARASOTA, Fla. -- The countdown is on. In just over 3 months, the new Mall at University Town Center will open its doors. And with that, more job opportunities and developments are on the horizon.
But connecting with job seekers with those opportunities has not been a simple task.
With more than 2,000 jobs available before the mall even opens its doors, the region's job agency, Career Source Suncoast, has taken it upon themselves to reach out to stores and restaurants.
"This is what we do. We help people find jobs and we help the businesses find people. We're kind of the matchmaker," says account executive Doug Warrington.
Since mall developers do not plan to hold a job fair, the agency is putting together a digital jobs portal -- a special website solely dedicated to connect both job seekers and employers for the mall. The page will have a list of available jobs with direction on how to apply.
And Suncoast job seekers are hopeful. "Most people think just because it's a big, big new place, all the jobs are taken, because the companies brought their own people in. That's not the truth," says job hunter Wadson Almonor.
Some individual stores are posting job listings on their own websites, including anchor stores Macy’s, Sak’s, and the European brand H&M.
Career Source Suncoast says most employers don't start hiring until a month before opening, so there is still time. "Back about 6 months ago, there weren't that many job opportunities. Now there are much more. We're definitely seeing an increase in that."
And the potential for job opportunity doesn't stop there. The developer of the new mall wants to build more commercial and office space in the area, including 3 hotels.
Benderson Development is looking to transform more than a half million square feet between the new mall and I-75, adding 600,000 square feet of retail and 100,000 square feet of office space.
Residents believe it will continue to spur economic growth in the area. "Right on the borderline, University Parkway and Manatee County and Sarasota County...you can't beat it. It's good for the community," says Wanick Damour.