North Port, Florida
recognized as one of the fastest-growing cities in the US
With a buzz of economic activity, North Port, Florida is the place to watch
Earning the coveted position as the second fastest-growing city in the US comes with its perks. For the lucky residents of North Port, Florida, being able to enjoy everything that this dynamic and charming city has to offer is a way of life not to be taken for granted. With access to beautiful waters, shopping, up and coming residential developments along with a host of enviable outdoor amenities, calling North Port, Florida home comes with a sense of pride.
Spanning 104 square miles, North Port is the largest city in Sarasota County. Ideally located on Florida’s West Coast, the community of 82,000 is situated between Tampa and Ft. Myers, with two exits on Interstate 75, and an attractive stretch of U.S. 41 within its boundaries. North Port also boasts easy access to four airports, Sarasota, Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, and Tampa. With over 80 miles of canal waterways, Warm Mineral Springs, Legacy Trail and the Myakka State Forest, the city offers a plethora of recreation experiences, taking advantage of Florida’s sunny warm climate.
Incorporated 64 years ago, North Port had an interesting beginning, as Mayor Barbara Langdon shares, “We are a General Development community. So, the implication of that is we are a pre-platted community with infrastructure, roads, and drainage throughout the 104 square miles.”
As the second fastest growing community in the United States, she says that the city is working to guide that development while maintaining the natural areas. “I think we’re the only, or one of the very few, cities in the state of Florida with a State Forest within the city limits,” she notes.
“We also have another environmental area on the opposite end of the city, which is the Orange Hammock Conservation Area.” North Port is also home to 28 parks, an aquatic center, and two community centers, all managed by what Mayor Langdon describes as a very large and active Parks and Rec Department.
Interim Manager of North Port’s Economic Development Division, Vinnie Mascarenhas believes that the growth the city is experiencing is due to its strategic location, surrounded by both national and international airports, with proximity to four seaports.
“It makes logistics and distribution very attractive in the Southwest Florida area, in the state, and in the nation.” She mentions Benderson Development, an important partner for the city, which is creating commercial and industrial lease space throughout North Port. “They leased out their phase one at our Innovation Corridor at I 75 in Toledo Blade so quickly in the first year that they’re doing phase two,” she discloses. The Benderson complex is home to entities such as the Tervis Tumbler fulfillment center.
Alaina Ray, Neighborhood Development Services Director says the city has identified several industries as economic development targets, including healthcare. She relays, “We do have a partnership with the Sarasota Memorial Hospital system, they will be building a brand new full-service 100-plus bed hospital here. They will also be building a second Health Care Center on the western edge of our city in the Wellen Park area.”
With millions of square feet of industrial space coming online within the next two years, North Port is also looking to attract manufacturing to the city, which has the youngest median age workforce demographic in the North Port–Bradenton–Sarasota Metropolitan Statistical Area. “We are looking at anything that is light manufacturing related, including plastics companies,” she explains. “King Plastic is located here in North Port, their headquarters are here, and they are a huge employer. We’re looking at anything where most of the operations are internal to a building. We are looking to attract logistics, distribution, or any of those types of businesses.”
Entertainment-related enterprises are another attraction-related focus, bringing in more opportunities to expand the city’s tourism base. Currently, the Atlanta Braves use North Port as the location for their spring training, which is a tourist draw the city hopes to expand. Warm Mineral Springs, the only natural warm mineral spring in Florida is also a major international attraction. With over 152,000 visitors last year, North Port is looking to expand on the popularity of the warm spring, with the potential for a public-private-partnership in the resort health and wellness industry.
Mascarenhas recounts, “about 90% of our workforce commutes outside of the city to go to work every day. We don’t want to be the bedroom community for Sarasota and Charlotte counties any further. As we build out our infrastructure, and as we continue to look for development, we are also keeping at the forefront of all of our minds, to decrease the commute time for our residents and increase their quality of life by finding people that want to bring in quality high paying jobs to keep folks living and working here in the city.”
Valued partnerships with the North Port Area Chamber of Commerce, Suncoast Technical College, and CareerSource are all crucial to supporting local businesses and connecting skilled workers to jobs, grants, and apprenticeship programs. SCORE, a non-profit small business association located in nearby Port Charlotte is another valuable resource for North Port’s entrepreneurial community.
Mascarenhas describes, “They have mentors there that help a lot of our businesses. Many of our businesses here in North Port are home-based, or just starting out. We refer them to SCORE frequently, and they get the assistance that they need to write a business plan or shop that business plan around for some venture capital or take it to banks to get the funding that they need to expand and to grow.”
On the sustainability side, Ray reports that the city is taking the lessons it learned from Hurricane Ian to make the community more resilient to future storms. Developer Mattamy Homes have incorporated EV charging stations and other environmental features into North Port’s Wellen Park community, and other master-planned communities in the city are expected to follow suit. Currently offering incentives for sustainable development, the city is also rewriting its land development codes to reflect an emphasis on these environmental initiatives.
Reducing impervious pavement and finding new ways to use and store stormwater are also priorities, and part of the city’s holistic approach to sustainability and resiliency.
Educating residents is also key, as Mayor Langdon relays, “We have a lot of people moving here from the north. And we try to help people understand that having acres of green golf course-worthy grass is not the best approach to life in Florida. We try to get people to embrace what I fondly call a Florida Lawn, which I define as ‘anything that looks green from the street is fine with me’. The chemicals and the irrigation needs are very damaging to both our water table and the chemicals that ultimately run off into our swale.”
As for what is drawing people from the northern parts of the country, City Manager Jerome Fletcher quips, “I would think that the weather is the main driver of people from the New England area down here.”
On a more serious note, he continues, “I believe that the pandemic has shown us that as people decide to reprioritize their decisions, they want to work and live in a place that is more consistent with a better quality of life, and that’s what our area of the country has to offer.”
While North Port continues to grow at a rate faster than much of southwest Florida, Mayor Langdon notes that the future will include continued expansion of its commercial development footprint over the next 25 years.
As a parting thought she offers, “Although I won’t be here to see it, it’s my intention that by the time the city is built out, it will be diverse from a taxing point of view, we’ll have a vibrant, industrial commercial community in this city, and folks will have a much easier time balancing their budget than if we don’t achieve those things.”
Click The Cover To View Or Download The Brochure
AT A GLANCE
North Port, Florida
What: One of the fastest-growing cities in the United States
Where: Sarasota County, Florida
Wellen Park – (941) 960-7105
Wellen Park: A New Sense of Place
Wellen Park, one of the nation’s top-selling master-planned communities that is located in North Port, Florida, was designed to be as unique as the people who live there. The community was designed with an intentional focus on vibrant and unexpected possibilities and heartfelt connections to neighbors and nature.
Wellen Park offers an expansive mix of residential choices that includes single-family homes, paired villas, coach homes, condominiums, and rental apartments, as well as active adult rentals and independent and assisted living, as well as memory care.
Downtown Wellen, a new vibrant central hub and social gathering destination for the region, anchors Wellen Park with premier dining, entertainment, shopping and outdoor recreation opportunities. The pedestrian-friendly downtown features a collection of restaurants, retail, and beauty and business services.
In addition to a diverse mix of residential options, Wellen Park includes over 300,000 square feet of commercial and medical office space, a new healthcare campus and three new schools in the community. Wellen Park is also home to CoolToday Park, the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves.
Wellen Park is transforming the landscape of the Sarasota County region and creating a new sense of place that more people are choosing to call home every day.
Wharton-Smith, Inc. – www.whartonsmith.com
WS- WE BUILD COMMUNITIES
When it comes to everything needed to ensure that a community thrives, Wharton-Smith has what it takes. With a laser-focus vision pointed toward building communities, we specialize in education (K-12 and higher ed), public safety, parks and recreation, water and wastewater, sports venues, entertainment, and hospitality projects.
Wharton-Smith brings to the community almost 40 years of proven experience. Based in Sanford, Florida, we operate 11 full-service branches across the Southeast and the work that it undertakes every day has been recognized.
For many years Wharton-Smith has ranked in the top 50 national contractors in the delivery of water supply projects by Engineering News-Record (ENR) magazine. ENR has ranked Wharton-Smith the number one school builder in Florida and the number two school builder in the Southeast.
Our talented and dedicated staff is composed of approximately 680 team members that include highly qualified construction professionals and skilled craft personnel.
Through our office in North Port, we have developed strong relationships in the business community and are pleased to support the local economy through our construction projects. We take tremendous pride in what we build and are committed to delivering superior services to our clients.
Whether the project is hard bid, construction management, general contracting, or design-build, we have the in-house expertise to ensure our clients’ needs are always met. Our team is excited about the future of North Port and grateful to be part of this growing community! We are helping to further lay the foundation of this dynamic and prosperous region.