Where DeSoto landed on Florida's shores ...and nobody was really excited about that
Manatee County, Sarasota County's neighbor to the north, has a population of almost 300,000. That number makes it sizewise #2 of the three counties. The southern part of the county intermingles with Sarasota County; the northern section of the county is already part of the "Greater Tampa Bay Area". "Manatee" - yes, you are right - the county's name derives from those gentle creatures which are floating in the warm waters of the river and the Gulf of Mexico.
Manatee County is rich in History
The Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto discovered the area in the early-1600s. He and his fellow conquistadors came up the shores of the Manatee River and found a beautiful area suitable for vacationing - but they found no gold. At that time vacationing was not en vogue, although, the area was inviting and looked like a big resort.
But when the time is not right nobody will notice those marvels. Several months later, the "first European Tourist" left Florida disappointed and with empty pockets. There has never ever been the slightest evidence that El Dorado could be located in Florida. But what can you do about perception? Everybody thought that this legendary rich city must be somewhere.
200 years later not so greedy pioneers settled in the Manatee River area, and in 1855, Manatee County was "unofficially" founded. The road was a little bumpy at the beginning, but in the 20's and 30's of the next century, there was a rapid growth in population. The communities spread out, new settlers were attracted, businesses popped up everywhere, and Manatee county grew at a fast-paced rate.
Bradenton is a Busy City
Yes, Bradenton is a very busy city. The city dwellers are always hustling and bustling and at certain times, the traffic can be overwhelming. But that is a price you pay when the times are good.
In addition, the beaches, nature preserves and parks, popular area attractions and superb shopping destinations do a good job as well. They are attracting many visitors from all over the world and they are "spending their money like drunken sailors" at the outlet mall.
Airports - Snow BIRDS like to Fly
Although the Sarasota/Bradenton Airport is per se an international airport, the performance is still disappointing. Very few international airlines could have been convinced to use this airport as one of their destinations so far. The two major international airports in Tampa and Fort Myers are siphoning many passengers up and Sarasota/Bradenton is left in the cold.
However, that is really no reason to stick the head in the sand. SRQ must do better and management has still a lot on the plate to get the job done. They should talk to the people who manage the Punta Gorda airport. They almost doubled their traffic volume within a short amount of time.