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The last five years have been a long, rocky climb up for the region’s economy—not helped by the government shutdown and impasse in Congress last month—but there’s no doubt that business is up. Every market indicator has shown improvement this year. Housing, tourism, manufacturing, stocks, retail, banking—they’re all in better shape than the year before, and businesspeople are feeling more confident. (Read more in our “Progress Report” on page 24.)

But the stories in this issue also highlight another reality: Despite our best efforts to diversify our economy, our region’s growth is based on retirees (now the baby boomers) heading here and buying homes. Even more important to accept, this growth model will be with us for the foreseeable future (See “The Next 10 Years,” page 64.) We shouldn’t stop our efforts to retain talented young people and bring new companies and industries to Sarasota and Manatee, but our region’s prosperity has been built on sunshine, beautiful beaches and cultural riches.

The lesson? We had better keep our environment beautiful, our arts thriving, and nourish the businesses that serve our retirees. -Susan Burns

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