Is Sarasota the Next Tech Boom Town?


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, April 21st, 2016 – Another sound platform is being laid to help diversify Southwest Florida’s economy, with the University of Florida set to open its first FLEXStation (Florida Engineering Experiment Station) in Sarasota. Some industry observers believe that this program could contribute much in building the next “tech boom town” in the region, a development that certainly should help further stimulate demand for Sarasota homes for sale.

Announced in March 2016, this first innovation station in Florida is being implemented under the UF’s Wertheim College of Engineering with some $3 million total fund contributions coming from Sarasota County, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, and the University of Florida. As important besides funding, the UF will provide to the FLEXStation a three- to four-person staff. It will be headed by a director who will oversee program coordinators who will focus not only on industry and workforce development but also on educational collaboration programs. The ultimate goal of the organizations which partnered in this initiative is to install the region as a world leader in delivering technology.

Industry and Business Networking

Is Sarasota the Next Tech Boom Town?

The FLEXStation is expected to open before end-2016 in a 1,000-to-1,500-square-foot leased office space in a yet unnamed location in Sarasota County. In the interim prior to this opening, UF will post representatives in Sarasota County to beef up its existing industry network and create new connections in order to lay the groundwork needed for the innovation station to supply tech talents and tech ideas.

Through the FLEXStation, the region will have a ready bridge between UF capabilities and the needs of business owners and entrepreneurs. They can easily tap UF professionals in Sarasota to access University of Florida faculty and interns, as well as its infrastructure, equipment, and technology.

Strong Complementary Mechanisms

The Sarasota UF Innovation Station is an apt complement to other programs already in place geared at economic diversification and accelerating growth of the county’s emerging innovation sector. These efforts include the Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s BIG initiative to build an entrepreneurial support system in the region and its STEMsmart initiative in local schools.

Another supportive facility in place is the privately held technology business incubator, HuB, home to more than 80 creative industry businesses in east downtown Sarasota just across the Central Park subdivision off Fruitville Road. HuB, where the UF FLEXStation was auspiciously launched, offers not only work space for entrepreneurs, professionals, and creatives to connect with each other. Established in 2008, it also hosts events promoting business technologies and innovations.

Retaining and Attracting Millennials

Together with these complementary mechanisms, the Sarasota FLEXStation is expected to help in strengthening creation of jobs in the region, particularly for the younger generation. Notably, one major challenge in the economic future of the region, both government officials and business leaders have stated previously, is encouraging the area’s younger generation to pursue their careers locally.

Cited likewise as an important objective was enticing more working millennials to the region in order to balance the population influx of aging baby boomers which are bound to diminish in the years ahead. For these reasons, the government and private sectors in Sarasota rightfully agreed to partner in the UF FLEXStation which indeed could spark Sarasota’s emergence as the region’s tech boom town, a development that should also help boost the region’s housing sector.