The North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metropolitan area is the 10th fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S., according to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The tri-city metro area was home to 788,457 people as of July 1, 2016. That’s an increase of 2.7 percent, or 20,444 people, from the prior July.
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton and two other Florida metro areas landed spots in the top 10. The Villages was No. 1, and Cape Coral-Fort Myers was No. 5.
Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh isn’t surprised that more people want to live here. She represents the southeast portion of Manatee County encompassing Lakewood Ranch, one of the county’s fastest-growing communities.
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“The bottom line is the secret’s out now, and it’s just going to bring even more people here,” Baugh said. “Anytime we get acknowledgment for something like this, it makes even more people come to Manatee County to check us out and when they do, they move here.”
The people are friendly, it’s a reasonable place to live, the state of Florida doesn’t have income tax and to my knowledge it hasn’t snowed here since 1977.
Priscilla Whisenant Trace, Manatee County Commissioner
The Manatee County School District’s net enrollment increased by 793 students between the 2015-2016 school year and this year, according to data kept by the Florida Department of Education.
Priscilla Whisenant Trace, a Manatee County Commissioner representing the northeastern part of Manatee County, wasn’t surprised either. Trace enjoyed growing up in Manatee County and she said the area’s natural beauty draws people in.
“When I was a kid, you could collect scallops or go fishing,” Trace said. “If you wanted a big town, you could go to Tampa; it’s just 45 minutes away and you can see the performing arts or watch a football game. (In Manatee County) you can pick blackberries or strawberries. It has everything except mountains.”
Last year, the U.S. Census Bureau released data showing North Port ranked fourth and Bradenton sixth among the fastest-growing cities in Florida. North Port landed at No. 41 overall in the U.S. rankings, and Bradenton was 46th.
Manatee County grew faster than Sarasota County between 2015 and 2016. Manatee’s population grew by 3.5 percent, while Sarasota’s grew by 1.9 percent. Florida’s population grew by 1.8 percent. Sumter County grew the most, at 4.3 percent, and Liberty County lost 1.5 percent of its population.
“The people are friendly, it’s a reasonable place to live, the state of Florida doesn’t have income tax and to my knowledge it hasn’t snowed here since 1977,” Trace said.